First Congregational Church

341 S. Main St., Vermontville, Michigan


East (Front) Face

Photo taken by Nathan Holth in July 2010



Bells Ringing

This video is a partial recording of the church's bells ringing on the hour.

Nathan Holth

Play video


Street View 

Information About This Historic Site 

From Michigan Historic Sites Online

Property Type church
Historic Use RELIGION
Current Use RELIGION
Style Gothic

Narrative Description
The First Congregational Church is a rectangular, one-story building, five bays in length, sixty-and-one-half feet long by forty feet wide, located on the southwest corner of the village square. The exterior is painted white and strongly resembles certain New England meeting houses of the late eighteen century. The building has a gable roof, trusses, corner buttresses, a square central entrance tower with a belfry, a Greek entablature, and an octagonal spire that reaches upward approximately 110 feet. The spire is eight-sided, and is framed with rafters whose lower portions are curved to shape the flare of the roof. An ornamental sheet metal ceiling and cove cornice were installed. The framing is still sound and the building is well maintained. Originally, the church was heated by two wood stoves.

Statement of Significance
The First Congregational Church of Vermontville was constructed during the Civil War and dedicated on November 30, 1864. It was built to meet the needs of the Union Colony, a religiously bonded group that had settled in Vermontville in 1836. The colony was formed in East Poultney, Vermont, and the church is quite similar to various prototypes found in the East. This is especially true in the roof framing, which is of a type in common use in that region during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Some exterior changes have been made although the building is largely in its original state.

Marker Name
First Congregational Church

Marker Text
FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH Reverend Sylvester Cochrane, a Congregational minister from Vermont, first conceived of a settlement in Michigan after a visit here in 1835. Returning home he formed a group called the Union Colony, which settled in Vermontville the next year. The colonists were religiously oriented, and one of their stated purposes in settling here was to "remove the moral darkness" which they thought pervaded the West. Church services were first held in a log cabin and later in the Academy across the street. The present church was dedicated in 1864. The building strongly resembles certain New England meetinghouses of the late eighteenth century, especially in its roof framing of roughly hewn timbers and in much of the interior woodwork.

Period of Significance 1826-1865
Significant Date(s) 1862, 1864
Registry Type(s) 05/11/1970 Marker erected
09/03/1971 National Register listed
06/27/1969 State Register listed
Site ID# P22997

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on September 3, 1971
Reference number
Areas of significance
Architecture; Religion
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Religious structure
Current function
Religious structure
Period of significance
Significant years
1862; 1864

Update Log 

  • July 11, 2010: Essay added by Nathan Holth
  • July 11, 2010: Essay added by Nathan Holth
  • July 11, 2010: New photos from Nathan Holth
  • July 9, 2010: New Street View added by Nathan Holth