List of the oldest churches in the United States

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Old Ship Church (1681), the oldest surviving Puritan meeting house in Massachusetts

The designation of the oldest church in the United States requires careful use of definitions, and must be divided into two parts, the oldest in the sense of oldest surviving building, and the oldest in the sense of oldest Christian church congregation. Even here, there is the distinction between old church buildings that have been in continuous use as churches, and those that have been converted to other purposes; and between buildings that have been in continuous use as churches and those that were shuttered for many decades.

In terms of congregations, they are distinguished between early established congregations that have been in continuous existence (despite sometimes great theological changes), and early congregations that ceased to exist. Some of these churches are located in areas that were part of the thirteen original colonies that made up the United States in 1776. Others were built in states and territories that were later annexed, such as New Mexico and Puerto Rico. Sites on the list are generally from the First Period of American architecture or earlier.

To be listed here a site must:

Oldest church buildings[edit]

BuildingImageLocationStateFirst BuiltDenominationNotes
San Miguel MissionSanta Fe San miguel chapel.jpgSanta Fe, New MexicoNM1610Roman CatholicSaid to be the oldest church structure originally built in the continental USA. The original adobe walls and altar were built by the Tlaxcalan Indians from Mexico, but much of the structure was rebuilt in 1710. Building has been within the U.S. since 1848, when the New Mexico territory was annexed.[1]
St. Luke's ChurchNewport parish west facade.jpgSmithfield, VirginiaVA1632Episcopal/AnglicanSaid to be the oldest church in one of the thirteen original colonies, National Historic Landmark[2]
Jamestown ChurchJamestown church ruins bw.jpgJamestown, VirginiaVA1639Episcopal/AnglicanThe church tower is the oldest surviving building in Jamestown, the 1st British settlement[3]
Old Ship ChurchOld Ship Church Postcard.jpgHingham, MassachusettsMA1681Puritan, Congregational, now Unitarian UniversalistOldest church building in continuous ecclesiastical use in the United States; only remaining 17th-century Puritan meetinghouse in the US.[4]
Third Haven Meeting HouseThirdhaven.jpgTalbot County, MarylandMD1682Quaker (Friends)Oldest building in Maryland. Oldest Quaker meeting house in the United States.
Old Indian Meeting HouseOld Indian Meetinghouse.jpgMashpee, MassachusettsMA1684Congregational/Native AmericanOldest Native American church
King's ChapelKings chapel boston 2009h.JPGBoston, MAMA1686Unitarian ChristianOldest continually used religious site in Boston
Old Dutch Church of Sleepy HollowOld Dutch Church taken by James Russiello.JPGSleepy Hollow, New YorkNY1685Dutch ReformedOldest church building in New York
Old Quaker Meeting House (Flushing, Queens)Old-quaker-house-flushing.jpgFlushing, New YorkNY1694Quaker (Friends)Oldest religious building in New York City. The only surviving example in New York State of a typical 17th-century ecclesiastical frame structure of medieval design.[5]
Holy Trinity Church (Old Swedes)Old Swedes Front.JPGWilmington, DelawareDE1698Lutheran/EpiscopalOldest Swedish Church in the United States
Great Friends Meeting HouseNewport Friends Meetinghouse.JPGNewport, Rhode IslandRI1699Quaker (Friends)Quaker Meeting House, oldest surviving church in Rhode Island
Gloria Dei
(Old Swedes' Church)
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church.jpgPhiladelphia, PennsylvaniaPA1700Lutheran/EpiscopalOldest surviving church in Philadelphia
Six Principle Baptist ChurchSix Principle Baptist Church North Kingstown RI.jpgNorth Kingstown, Rhode IslandRI1703BaptistPossibly oldest surviving Baptist church building in the U.S.
St. Mary's Episcopal ChurchOld St. Mary's Church, West Broad & Wood Streets, Burlington (Burlington County, New Jersey).jpgBurlingtonNJ1703EpiscopalOldest church in New Jersey
St. Andrews Episcopal ChurchSt. Andrew's Episcopal Church, State Route 61, Charleston vicinity (Charleston County, South Carolina).jpgCharleston, South CarolinaSC1706EpiscopalOldest church in South Carolina
Old Narragansett ChurchOld Narragansett Church Episcopal in Wickford Rhode Island.jpgWickford, Rhode IslandRI1707EpiscopalOldest surviving colonial Episcopal church in Northeastern USA
St.Michael's Church (Marblehead, Massachusetts)St. Michael's Church, Marblehead.jpgMarblehead, MassachusettsMA1714EpiscopalOldest surviving Episcopal church building in New England on its original foundation
Old North ChurchOldNorthChurchSteeple.JPGBoston, MassachusettsMA1723EpiscopalOldest active church building in Boston and a National Historic Landmark, the Old North Church (formal name: Christ Church in the City of Boston) is the location from which the famous signal lanterns are said to have been displayed for Paul Revere's midnight ride during the American Revolution.[6]
Trinity Church, NewportTrinity Church, Newport, RI.jpgNewport, Rhode IslandRI1726Anglican/EpiscopalOldest Episcopal Parish in Rhode Island
St. John's Episcopal Church (Hampton, Virginia)Stjohnshampton01.JPGHampton, VirginiaVA1728Anglican/EpiscopalOldest Episcopal Parish in the New World
Christ Church (Ironsides, Maryland)DurhamParishChurch 20110626.jpgNanjemoy, MarylandMD1732EpiscopalOldest Episcopal church building in Maryland
St. Thomas Episcopal Church (Bath, North Carolina)St. Thomas' Church Bath Beaufort County North Carolina by Frances Benjamin Johnston.jpgBath, North CarolinaNC1734EpiscopalOldest church in North Carolina
Augustus Lutheran ChurchAugustus Lutheran Church, 717 West Main Street, Trappe (Montgomery County, Pennsylvaina).jpgTrappe, PennsylvaniaPA1743LutheranOldest unaltered Lutheran Church in use by the same congregation
St. Michael's ChurchSt. Michael's Episcopal Church, 80 Meeting Street, Charleston (Charleston County, South Carolina).jpgCharleston, South CarolinaSC1752–1761Episcopal/AnglicanOldest church edifice in Downtown Charleston, SC
St. Paul's ChapelSt Paul's Chapel sunny jeh.JPGNew York, New YorkNY1766EpiscopalOldest church building in Manhattan
Barratt's ChapelOld Barratt's Chapel (Methodist), Route 113, Frederica vicinity (Kent County, Delaware).jpgFrederica, DelawareDE1780MethodistSecond oldest Methodist church building in the U.S. built for that purpose (the oldest is St. George's in Philadelphia, PA, built in 1769)
Mission San Juan CapistranoSJC Sanctuary in Serra Chapel - former Sala.jpgSan Juan CapistranoCA1782Roman CatholicOldest building in use in California

Oldest Continuous Church Congregations[edit]

BuildingImageLocationStateFoundedDenominationNotes
St. John's Episcopal Church (Hampton, Virginia)Stjohnshampton01.JPGHampton, VirginiaVA1610EpiscopalOldest English-speaking parish in continuous existence in the United States of America, current building from 1728[7]
First Parish Church in PlymouthTown Square Plymouth.JPGPlymouth, MassachusettsMA1620Originally Separatist (Calvinist), then Congregational, now Unitarian UniversalistOldest congregation in New England, oldest congregation in Massachusetts (building from 1899), founded by the Pilgrims
Marble Collegiate ChurchMarble Church NYC.jpgNew York, New YorkNY1628Dutch ReformedOldest church congregation in New York State (building from 1854)
First Church in BostonFirst Church in Boston MA.jpgBoston, MassachusettsMA1630Originally Puritan (Calvinist), then Congregational, now Unitarian UniversalistOldest congregation in Boston, Massachusetts (building from 1968)
Christ ChurchChrist Church, Stevensville, Maryland.jpgStevensville, MarylandMD1632EpiscopalOldest congregation in Maryland, building from 1880 pictured. (current building from 1995)
First Baptist Church in AmericaFirst Baptist Meetinghouse, Providence, RI.jpgProvidence, Rhode IslandRI1638BaptistFirst Baptist Church founded in America, oldest church congregation in Rhode Island, oldest Baptist congregation in America (building from 1775)
First Presbyterian Church in JamaicaNew York, New YorkNY1662PresbyterianOldest Presbyterian church congregation in continuous existence
St. Philip's Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina)St. Philip's Episcopal Church (Charleston, South Carolina).jpgCharleston, SCSC1681EpiscopalOldest Episcopal Congregation south of Virginia, present church building 1838
King's ChapelKings chapel boston 2009h.JPGBoston, MAMA1686Unitarian ChristianOldest continually used religious site in Boston
Christ Church, PhiladelphiaPhiladelphia, PennsylvaniaPA1695EpiscopalOldest Episcopal congregation in Pennsylvania
Trinity Church, New YorkTrinity Church NYC 004b.JPGNew York, NYNY1697EpiscopalChartered by King William III in 1697.
Trinity Church, NewportTrinity Church, Newport, RI.jpgNewport, Rhode IslandRI1698Anglican/EpiscopalOldest Episcopal Parish in Rhode Island
Most Blessed Sacrament ParishBally, PennsylvaniaPA1741Roman CatholicOldest RC Church in the original thirteen colonies still in continuous use in original building, original name St. Paul's Chapel
Mother Bethel AME ChurchMotherBethelAMEChurchPhila1.jpgPhiladelphiaPA1794African Methodist Episcopal (AME)AME Church and denomination (1816) founded in Philadelphia; oldest congregation in the United States (building from 1890)

By state[edit]

Alabama[edit]

Alaska[edit]

Arkansas[edit]

Arizona[edit]

California[edit]

Colorado[edit]

Connecticut[edit]

Delaware[edit]

Florida[edit]

Georgia[edit]

Hawaii[edit]

Idaho[edit]

Illinois[edit]

Indiana[edit]

Iowa[edit]

Kansas[edit]

Kentucky[edit]

Louisiana[edit]

Maine[edit]

Maryland[edit]

Massachusetts[edit]

Michigan[edit]

Missouri[edit]

Mississippi[edit]

Minnesota[edit]

Montana[edit]

Nebraska[edit]

Nevada[edit]

New Hampshire[edit]

New Jersey[edit]

New Mexico[edit]

New York[edit]

North Carolina[edit]

North Dakota[edit]

Ohio[edit]

Oklahoma[edit]

Oregon[edit]

Pennsylvania[edit]

Puerto Rico[edit]

Rhode Island[edit]

South Carolina[edit]

South Dakota[edit]

Tennessee[edit]

Texas[edit]

Utah[edit]

Vermont[edit]

Virginia[edit]

May 21, 1814

Washington[edit]

Washington, D.C.[edit]

West Virginia[edit]

Wisconsin[edit]

Wyoming[edit]

See also[edit]

External links and references[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.nosfarchives.org/sanmiguel.html
  2. ^ W. Eugene Kleinbauer, Modern Perspectives in Western Art History: An Anthology, Medieval Academy of America, 1989, p. 315
  3. ^ Nellie Urner Wallington , Historic Churches of America, 1907, p. 8
  4. ^ "Old Ship Church", National Park Service
  5. ^ National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings, 1970
  6. ^ Fischer 1994, p. 99.
  7. ^ a b Tormey, James (April 2009). How Firm a Foundation. Richmond, VA: Diets Press. p. 184. ISBN 978-0-87517-135-7. 
  8. ^ http://www.ruralswalabama.org/attractions/indian-springs-baptist-church-ca-1825-near-mcwilliams-al/
  9. ^ Patsy Pipkin, "Walk Through History event brings to life memories of Smyrna Church", Arkansas Online, 13 Dec 2009, accessed 27 Sep 2010
  10. ^ "Restoration Almost Complete for Arkansas 85", Texarkana Gazette, 27 Sep 2010, accessed 27 Sep 2010
  11. ^ Hostetter, Lance. "Prayer, worship and community keep Conejos flock strong". Valley Courier. NewsMedia Corp., Alamosa, Colorado. Retrieved 25 Nov 2012. 
  12. ^ "First Parish Church". Meeting House History. First Parish Congregational Church of York. 2009. Retrieved 13 December 2010. 
  13. ^ Farmer, John (1838). "Memoirs of Ministers". In E. Cornelius (and others). Quarterly register and journal of the American education society. The American quarterly register. 
  14. ^ http://1stpresbvue.org/
  15. ^ James Dillon (23 April 1976). National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: St. James' Church, Goose Creek PDF (32 KB). National Park Service  and Accompanying five photos, exterior and interior, from 1975 and 1970 PDF (32 KB)