In 1816, Wickford Village was a growing community of shipbuilders, farmers, and those involved in coastal trade. The harbor was filled with brigs and schooners, and many were loaded with crops and goods from the area to be shipped to far off places.
On May 3, 1816, a group of residents formed the Baptist Society "for the purpose of building a Meeting House in the Village of Wickford." Allenton Baptist Church, which most of Society members had been attending, had been severely damaged in the storm of 1815, and although it was rebuilt during the following year, many of the members of the Wickford Society thought it was too far to travel there.
The first formal meeting of the society was held in July at the Town House, which is still standing on West Main Street.
Construction was started on the First Baptist Meeting House of Wickford in the fall of 1816. A lot on high ground had been purchased, probably because Wickford was flooded during "the Great Gale of 1815." The Meeting House was completed in 1817, at a total cost of $2,850, including the steeple which was later replaced by a belfry in 1835. According to church records, many of the earliest church meetings were called to convene at "early candlelight." After the construction of the belfry, assembly was "at the ringing of the bell."
In 1844, an organ was located in the gallery, now the balcony, and the congregation, when standing, would turn and face the choir!
In 1900, the interior of the meeting house was renovated, and the original box pews were removed. "And now we are quite like a city church," declare the records!
In 1828, the Masons built the Masonic Lodge (our Chapel Building) at a cost of $600. In 1833, the lodge and land were sold to twelve Baptist churchmen who were known as "The Proprietors of the Chapel." It was used by First Baptist for assemblies and functions, and as soon as they could afford it, it was acquired by the church.
It is easy to picture the many faithful people who have worshiped in the Meeting House for 182 years. We are grateful for those who have preached, prayed, taught, sung, and worked so hard to keep the beautiful little church on the hill serving our Lord and spreading the Gospel message to all. May it ever continue.