A Brief History
The Town of Stockbridge began as a mission to the Mahican Indians. The Reverend John Sergeant was sent as the first missioner to the Berkshires by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in 1734. As the town grew and attracted English and Dutch settlers, the Indian Mission developed into what is now the Stockbridge Congregational Church. Among Sergeant’s noteworthy successors at Stockbridge were the great Puritan preacher Jonathan Edwards and the beloved David Dudley Field. In 1834, following the disestablishment of the Congregational Church in Massachusetts, a small group of townspeople organized the first Anglican worship in Stockbridge, incorporating St. Paul’s Church.
By 1844 the congregation of St. Paul’s was able to erect its first building -a gothic wooden chapel designed by Richard Upjohn – architect of Trinity Wall Street. As Stockbridge and St. Paul’s grew over the next fifty years, a clock tower and a large extension were added to the chapel. Under the leadership of Arthur Lawrence – rector from 1874 to 1909 – and with the generosity of Charles Prescott Butler – a new stone Church was built as a memorial to Butler’s late wife – Susan Ridley Sedgwick. St. Paul’s new building was designed by the great American architect Charles McKim. The new stone Church was consecrated in 1884 – fifty years after the founding of the Parish.
The 20th Century was a thriving time for our Church. Legacies from Gilded Age summer residents built up our endowment. Our present Rectory and Parish House were established. New winds blew – pew rentals were given up in the 1950s, and in the 1960s the communion table came down to face the congregation. Some of us still remember rather fondly winters worshipping in Parish House during the 1970s energy crisis.
In recent decades we’ve been able to sustain and expand on our wonderful legacy. Our garden, memorial wall and fountain were created in 2002. A new parking lot and driveway were included in this campaign. In the last few years, renovations were made to the Parish House and Rectory exteriors. A major renovation of the Rectory will be completed in 2023, and we recently celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the founding of St. Paul’s Children’s Center.