First Universalist Church

A striking building that housed a thriving congregation in the twentieth century is now an art gallery and meditation space.

The Universal Unitarian Church officially organized on April 9th, 1842. For many years prior to their official organization, there was occasional preaching at an old school house. In 1843 the congregation purchased the old Methodist church where they stayed until they had enough money in 1851 to build their own church on State Street. In 1892 the Unitarian congregation voted to build a new church at 82 Summer Street. On September 2, 1892 the cornerstone was laid for this Romanesque-style building, which was designed by H. Neill Wilson of Pittsfield.

The building was typical of late-19th century construction in many ways, with an ornate and expensive front but the rear and sides were plain and constructed with much cheaper materials.

For many years the church prospered. The Unitarian church was very involved in the North Adams community and put on many events. These events included a showing of the sex education film “From Boys to Men” and the creation of a coffee house for young adults in the lower hall of the church in 1967. By the late seventies the congregation was getting smaller and there were too many high maintenance costs so in 1977 the congregation sold the building and combined with a Unitarian branch in Pittsfield.

Today the building is owned by artist Eric Rudd who has renamed it “A Chapel for Humanity”. Rudd has an exhibition with over 150 colorful life size figures and 250 low-relief ceiling figures in this building along with a 9/11 memorial. The room with figures is open to visitors as an art experience but also for private meditation.



82 Summer Street, North Adams, MA