In 1805 there was only one meeting house in North Hingham, the old North Meeting House, now known as Old Ship Church. Following the resignation of the incumbent minister, Rev. Dr. Henry Ware, to become professor of divinity at Harvard, a schism developed over the choice of a successor. In the end, the members and four deacons of the church, followed by a substantial minority of the residents of the North Parish, withdrew from the old meeting house.
The dissident group held its worship services in the old Derby Academy building on Main Street while work began on a “new North meeting house” at the foot of Lincoln Street. The frame of new structure was completed on October 25, 1806, less than six months from the date of acceptance of the plans, and the finished sanctuary was dedicated on June 17, 1807.
The design of New North has long been credited to Charles Bulfinch, architect of the State House in Boston and other memorable buildings of the era. Whether or not Bulfinch actually drew up the plans, the building’s classic style clearly shows his influence.
The old-fashioned box pews downstairs in the church sanctuary are all originals and are the oldest pews in Hingham. Three of the pews today bear plaques commemorating the famous Hingham men who occupied them: General Benjamin Lincoln (1733-1810), Gov. John A. Andrew (1818-1867) and Gov. John Davis Long (1838-1915). The uppermost galleries at the rear of the sanctuary were put in for the use of Negro servants and were long known as the “slave galleries,” despite the fact that use of the galleries was abandoned early in the 19th century when New North became a hotbed of abolitionism. The mahogany pulpit, though not as old as the building itself, is still venerable, having been installed in 1832.
In 1906, a two-story wing was added at the rear of the church building. The wing houses the church parlor with its large working fireplace, a kitchen with good catering facilities, an office, a nursery, and a large ballroom. The second-floor ballroom has over the years been used by various local groups for theatrical performances, as a nursery school classroom, and a dancing school studio. In 1992, volunteers from both inside and outside the church membership extensively renovated and restored the parish house.