Chatham Church History
The Chatham Congregational Church was built in 1871 in a style that may be described as a combining of late Greek Revival and mid-Victorian. Proportions are characteristic with the vertical lines of the gables exceeding the width, but in this example keeping the broader pitch of the Greek Revival tradition.
The building stands on ground donated by Ithiel Clay, who also provided for the construction of the building, and a sum of money for pastoral expenses. A parsonage, constructed in 1902 on another tract, burned in 1939. The parish also owns fifty acres of woodland adjacent to the church lot.
The story goes, as handed down by the late Gertrude Haley, from her father and grandfather, the belfry bell, made by the Paul Revere firm, was hauled from Portsmouth, New Hampshire, by six yoke of oxen in the dead of winter. It weighed nearly 900 pounds, and is one of the largest bells cast by Revere.
Parish support and interest had reached a low point prior to 1950, and the building was in a state of serious disrepair. Then, with the leadership of the Reverend Thomas Roden, pastor of the First Church of Christ, Congregational, UCC, of North Conway, NH, from 1949 to 1979, the membership made a thorough renovation. Since that time the church has been kept in excellent condition.
Services are held from early June through September. Special services are held at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. The Reverend Dr. Donald f. Derse serves as minister.
Chatham Church on the Johnny Carson Show
The Chatham Congregational Church had a starring role in the short film, "O Holy Child," which was aired for several years during the 1980s as part of the Johnny Carson Show's Christmas special presentation. The film featured local resident Kelly Muse, then 5 years old. The NBC producers chose the Chatham Church as the setting for the film because of its quintessentially New England character.