The loss of a lawsuit in the early days of Sandy Bay was the genesis for the construction of this church, which still stands on Cleaves St. in downtown Rockport. On Feb. 27, 1821, several prominent residents of Sandy Bay organized the Universalist Benevolent Society of Gloucester (as the village of Sandy Bay was still part of Gloucester then).
At first, through an agreement with the Congregational Church, the Universalists held their services there. After several months, however, the Congregationalists evicted them. The Universalists brought a lawsuit against the Congregationalists. After dragging on in court for several years, the lawsuit was decided in favor of the Congregationalists.
For awhile after being denied access to the Congregational Church, the Universalists worshiped in a schoolhouse in Sandy Bay. In 1829, they completed construction of a meetinghouse of their own. The meetinghouse was dedicated in a ceremony on Oct. 8, 1829. In 1839, the society was formally incorporated as the Second Universalist Society of Gloucester. In 1845, its name was changed to the First Universalist Society of Rockport.
In 1868, a number of repairs and improvements were made to the original meetinghouse. The tower and spire were added and the interior was improved with new pulpit, pews and windows. The building was enlarged with the addition of a pastor’s study and an organ loft.
This postcard bears a postmark of Sept. 12, 1907. The postcard was published by The Robbins Bros. Co., of Boston. It was printed in Germany and distributed by the Metropolitan News Company of Boston.