Free Meeting House

Free Meeting House

Free Meeting House

Constructed in 1821, the Free Meeting House was established as an all-embracing place of worship for early settlers in “The Bend” area of the Petitcodiac River. It remains in its original location at the intersection of Steadman Street and Mountain Road in Moncton.

Free Meeting House

The Free Meeting House is designated a Local Historic Place, not only because it is Moncton’s first and oldest public building but also for its distinctive architecture in the region. Built on land donated by Hannah and William Steadman, the street’s namesake, the building was the first in Moncton to receive a commemorative tablet during its centennial celebrations in 1921. The New England-style meeting house is unique in Moncton and houses the area’s oldest burial site. Many founders, including the Steadmans, Ichabod Lewis, and Solomon Trites, are buried here.

Free Meeting House Cemetery

Research indicates that Shepherd Johnson Frost, a renowned New England architect who relocated to New Brunswick in 1817, may have been involved in the planning or construction of the Free Meeting House.

The house is also designated for its enduring religious and community significance in Moncton. Initially conceived as a temporary worship space for various denominations while permanent churches were being built, some religious groups used it as their home for up to 57 years. Almost every religion in Moncton throughout the years can trace its roots back to the house. Denominations shared the space from its construction in 1821 until the end of its purely religious function in 1963.

Free Meeting House Plaque

The spirit of collaboration between religious and secular groups is exemplified by the Free Meeting House’s centennial preparations in 1921. Trustees, religious groups like the Seventh-Day Adventists, and secular groups such as the Flat Iron Gang worked together to revitalize the structure and its surroundings after a century of modifications and intermittent neglect.

In addition to its community significance, the house’s full restoration became a City of Moncton Centennial Project in 1990. That same year, the Free Meeting House was designated a National Historic Site. In 1996, it was designated a Heritage Property through the City of Moncton Heritage Preservation By-Law #Z-1102.

Today, the fully restored Free Meeting House serves not only as the Moncton Museum‘s largest artifact but also as a gathering place for secular and religious groups of any denomination. It is available for private rentals, such as weddings, meetings, and special events.

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