The Origin of the Shrine's Revere Bell
First Congregational Church of Chicopee, Massachusetts
According to the Massachusetts Historical Society The First Congregational Church of Chicopee, Massachusetts, purchased our 831 pound bell from the Revere Company and it proudly hung in its church from 1833 until 1971 when it was given to the Methodist Church of Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts. In 2013 the bell was removed from the belfry of the Methodist Church and given to the Methodist Church of Ludlow, Massachusetts. It was placed in a parishioner's garage for two years before being sold to a bell buyer in Michigan and then subsequently sold in 2016 to Mary Undoer of Knots Shrine Foundation. In a conversation with an elder of St. Paul's Ludlow Church he stated that according to the Church's secretary the bell was purchased in 1833 by the Congregational Church but that it had been cast in 1826. Further research showed that this was possible as the Revere Company did stockpile bells for sale to churches, schools, public buildings etc.
The First Congregational Church of Chicopee, Massachusetts, was the first settled church in what would eventually grow into the booming industrial, farming, and mill city of Chicopee. Two hundred fifty years ago, forty-nine Chicopee men petitioned the First Congregational Church of Springfield, proposing the establishment of a separate church in Chicopee as a Fifth Parish of Springfield. When their petition was denied, they took the case to the Massachusetts General Court, which granted them the right to build.
In 1751, forty men entered the woods and cut the timber required to build Chicopee's very first meeting house. The first minister was Rev. John McKinstry, who was ordained in 1752 and died Nov. 9 1813.
As the church grew, on May 12, 1824, the cornerstone of our present building was laid. The work was completed in 1826, and a grand celebration was held on January 4th of that year. The new and present building is a beautiful, typical New England white Congregational Church, with a balcony above the narthex, choir lofts on the first floor, to the left and right of the pulpit, and a steeple flanked by a huge fish-shaped weathervane.
Some say that this new meetinghouse was part of the underground railway that ran through Chicopee during the days of the Civil War. Rev. Asa Wright Mellinger was a Pastor at this Church from the 1940s to 1976.