Church History and Properties
In 1838, seventy members "in good and regular standing" sought to be "dismissed along with the pastor" from First Church, which was founded in 1730 and still stands one and a half miles up North Street. The new congregation, comprised of 11 men and 59 women along with Rev. Levi Smith, moved into the present structure as a meeting place for village residents along the river.
To mark our 150th year anniversary, seventy members dressed as our 1838 counterparts walked down from our parent First Church for a service of celebration here. In 2013, our 175th Anniversary, we celebrated throughout the year with a special music concert, art auction as well as a community dinner. Over the years, thirty ministers have filled the pulpit, with residence from six months to 34 years. The church membership has varied between 42 and a current figure of 347.
Built in 1824, South Church looked very much as it does today, with the exception of the portico, which was added in 1912. In the early 19th century, architects were seldom employed in such remote areas. However, they often used manuals and examples of other churches in addition to their own experience gained from working the large shipbuilding yards adjacent to the Kennebunk River. One of these yards, operated by David Clark, was on the grassy plot between the church and the river. The cupola, restored in 1991, is designed after the style of Christopher Wren and the steeple has the original 1824 Aaron Willard clock with its unique wooden face, still keeps accurate time and rings on the hour.
Originally, the interior of South Church was open with tall box pews, a two-story pulpit, wide galleries or balconies on three sides, with the organ and choir in the rear. By 1843, due to a severe drop in membership, the dividing floor was installed, the sanctuary remaining on the lower level. By 1875, the move was made upstairs with the new, smaller pews installed, and in 1881, frescoes were added to the sanctuary area.
In 1899 memorial windows commemorating our charter members were installed and the addition of the Doric-columned front portico in 1912. The chancel area was redone in 1956, and the lower level remodeled in 1969. The Noack pipe organ was installed and dedicated in 2004. Built in Georgetown, MA it was offered as an anonymous gift from a most generous donor.
The South Church River Green next to our church is used as public open space, for dog walking, picnics, kayak launching and quiet reflection. The River Green can be rented for special occasions.
The Community House extends our fellowship, event and education space, and provides meeting space for community organizations, memorial service and wedding receptions. Use the button below for more information on rentals.