The first building of this Parish was erected in 1666 elsewhere in town when the area was known as Groton Plantation. It served as Groton’s first Meeting House and was burned by Indians during the King Philip’s War in 1676.
This present church, built in 1755, is the Parish’s fourth building and the second on this site. It was originally situated long side towards the Common. Groton was once the county seat and from 1776 to 1787 the Courts of General Sessions and of Common Plea for Middlesex County sat in this meetinghouse.
In the summer of 1795 lightning struck the church. The ensuing fire was said to have been extinguished with milk from a nearby farm, the thought being at that time that water would not put out a fire ignited by lightning. Charred timbers may still be seen in the belfry.
The town clock in the belfry was made by Francis Ridgeway and placed in position in 1809. The Paul Revere bell was cast in 1819 and has been in use since then. The clock and bell are still wound by the Keeper of the Clock twice a week.
In 1839 the house was turned so that its former north entrance faced the Common. The Greek Revival portico is of this date. The building was divided into two stories and the lower floor continued to be used for town meetings until 1859, at which time the present Town Hall was built. The church became Unitarian in 1826.
When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
— Mary Oliver
The interior of the church was altered again in 1877 but later partly restored in 1916. Practically none of the original interior survives. In 1986 following the rebuilding of the foundation, the church was recognized by the Massachusetts Historical Commission as an historic structure.
The church communion silver consists of nineteen pieces, many being gifts of members. Most of this is now at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, where it is occasionally on display. In 1891 the present Hook and Hastings organ, built in 1876, was obtained from The Church of the Advent on Beacon Hill in Boston.
The lovely old home next to the Church on Powder House Road was the parsonage for the minister but presently is used as a parish house for church school classes, offices, and meetings.
First Parish Church of Groton is an Honor Society (full fair share) member within the Unitarian Universalist Association, and is part of the Clara Barton District of the UUA.