The history of this church is closely intertwined with the development of the city of Lawrence.
At first, Sunday school classes for children in the area bordering the Merrimack were conducted with the assistance of teachers from various churches throughout the city. Evening prayer meetings were added to these classes, led by laymen from other churches.
The next step toward establishment of a separate church came in January 1863, when the former Union Schoolhouse, donated by Deacon Benjamin Coolidge of Lawrence Street Church, was dedicated and became the new chapel.
The building had to be moved from Franklin Street and was set up on the banks of the Merrimack on Water Street, the present location of the church (this is what is now our Parish Hall).
The First morning worship services were held there in February 1869, with Robert Aldred preaching the sermon. In the summer of 1871, Rev. James Crossley became Pastor.
When he returned to England, Charles Hall, senior at Andover Theological Seminary became Pastor. Then, a group of five seminarians organized as the Riverside Association of Andover with the chairman acting as pastor for several Sundays in a row.
In January 1875, members began considering organizing as a regular church. Methodist and Congregational ministers lent their assistance. That June, the Riverside Evangelical Church was organized with Frank Hugh Foster as acting pastor.
The evangelical phase continued for three years until members voted to join the Congregational Fellowship and became known as the Riverside Congregational Church. It is this official founding (1878), that is we celebrate as our Anniversary.
In the golden jubilee year (1928), the major effort of parishioners and the generosity of one person, Mr. John E Aldred, resulted in the erection of the present stone chapel. They started out in a small way, seeking only to add a steeple to the converted school to make it look more like a church. The steeple was never added, but the church was built in all it’s glory.
John Edward Aldred (1864-1945), son of one of the early founders, offered to donate a whole new church to be known as the John Aldred Memorial – the handsome stone edifice that has been the pride of parishioners during the second half of the church’s history.
Between 1910 and 1918, New York banker, John Edward Aldred built his Summer residence “Ormston House” (his mothers maiden name), on the north shore of Long Island. The area was known as the “Gold Coast of Long Island”. The estate was a 74 room Tudor built residence on 119 acres. It included 2 gate houses and a stable. Click here for a You Tube video of Ormston House. To read a very interesting artricle on Ormston House, click here.
Ormston House was sold in 1944 for a mere $75,000, and has been a Ukrainian Orthodox Monastery called St. Josaphats.The photograph below depicts Ormston House, the estate of New York banker John E. Aldred. It is situated on 119 acres in the village of Lattingtown, New York. Architect Bertram Goodhue designed Ormston House in 1916 for Aldred, who at the time presided over the financial firm Aldred & Co.