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Orford Congregational Church
Orford - New Hampshire

Orford Congregational Church in Orford, New Hampshire

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Orford Congregational Church, completed in 1854, was designed by Moses Gerrish Wood whose framed architectural drawing, signed and dated 1851, hangs in the sanctuary. A small part of the front of the church stands on the site of a 1797 meetinghouse which faced south on the West Common. ... This Gothic-style building has an ogee-arched window over the double front door and lancet-arched side windows. Its balustrated clock tower is ornamented with a frieze that is repeated under the recessed eaaves of the facade. In 1888, Isacc Willard gave a rose window to the church in memory of his father, Stedman Willard. It is placed in the wall over the door of the sanctuary leading to the vestibule. The meetinghouse bell was used in the new church until 1862 when it cracked as a result of pranksters ringing it too vigorously on the Fouth of July. The present bell took its place the following year. Originally Gothic grey in color, the church was painted white at the turn of the century. (Photo by Arthur Vitols of Helga Photo Studio in New York. Text by Alice Doan Hodgson author of "Orford, New Hampshire - A Most Beautiful Village")

The church clock, one of seven known Morrill tower clocks, and the only one still in it's original location is one that has been worked on by Donn Haven Lathrop. Donn lives "within earshot of two striking clocks," has built an extensive Clockwork Historian website and generously shared the following background information for inclusion here.

Clockwork Historian - Donn Haven Lathrop

In Donn's words:

"Orford, New Hampshire is indeed a most lovely village. The church faces east toward the "Ridge", an ancient river-bank now the site of seven of the houses built (and preserved faithfully) by the luminaries and wealthy of Orford. Samuel Morey, the inventor (unsung) of the steamboat lived in one of these houses, and had another built for his daughter's family. Behind the church, the land falls off toward the Connecticut River, and to the west across the river the Vermont slate cliffs rise to provide a 500-foot backdrop, and housing for a pair of peregrine falcons.

The clock is attributed to Benjamin Morrill of Boscawen, New Hampshire. It was installed in about 1850 and is still running, hand wound, and chiming the hours. The bellfounder was Henry Northey Hooper 1799-1865 of Boston, and dated 1863. The current church building is the fifth on the site, and is the only wooden Gothic structure in New Hampshire, and perhaps the entire Northeast.

1700's New England Ecumenical - Ecclesiastical re-cycling ...

The third church building was deemed useless sometime in the late 1700's, dismantled and hauled off to the side. Several years later that dismantled church was floated down the Connecticut River to Norwich, Vermont, and used to build the Episcopal Church in that town. That church burned in 1917.

The current steeple/clock tower in Orford was completely rebuilt in 1960 due to serious rot. The congregation had been barred from using the front entrance area for several years, as the original builders hadn't sealed the roof of the tower. The original drawing for the church, now hanging at the back of the sanctuary, puzzlingly enough, does not show a clock dial in the steeple, but rather quatrefoil windows. The clock was removed, stored and then replaced in about 1964-65, until it failed in the late '70's.

There is no record of the installation of the clock--the earliest records show
1851-A. Phelps, cleaning the clock, (paid) 50c
1854-Adolphus Phelps, cleaning the clock, (paid) 50c
March 21, 1881, A. Phelps, cleaning the clock, (paid) 50c
(It had to have been installed originally in the predecessor building.)

Clock builder's Morrill's hometown is in the same category. Boscawen, just to the northwest of Concord, was first settled in 1733 and took its name from Admiral Lord Edward de Boscawen, whose Norman ancestors had come to England in 1066 with William the Conqueror. The Admiral was the commander of the English fleet which nearly annihilated the French Navy off the French coast in the closing years of the French and Indian War."

As for Henry Northey Hooper 1799-1865 , there is little published. An article in the "Timepiece Journal" published by the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, Connecticut, has mention of the lives and works of many New England and New York state bellfounders, but no details. His primary competition at the time was a George Handel Holbrook of Medway, MA, and the Meneeley Foundry in Troy, New York. Holbrook and Meneeley bells are found all over the world--if you look about carefully, I will wager that there is many a Holbrook bell in Oregon. They were shipped to the West Coast as ballast in sailing vessels, and used in the coastal states as lighthouse warning bells and as church bells."

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Updated: August 12, 2013