New Life for the Old Ship Parish House

Joshua Ross Photography

May 25, 2021 from the Parish House Management Team

The Parish House Management Team: Dennis Hogan, Brian McPhillips, Diane Morrison, Ron Pollara, Nina Wellford, Tom Willson

After months of preparation, Old Ship Church’s Parish House Management Team is pleased to report that the process to engage the community and discuss the future of the Parish House property at 107 Main Street is ready to move forward. We have been working with Atlantic Development’s principal, Hingham resident DJ MacKinnon, to lay the groundwork, and in the next few weeks DJ will be holding informational meetings with the community including neighbors and anyone interested in sharing their suggestions for the property.

Old Ship Church parishioners initially made the decision in 2017 to sell the Parish House property because we reluctantly realized that we are unable to afford to maintain it. Church services and community events are held across the street in the Old Ship Meeting House – the iconic 1681 Puritan-era structure that is on the Town seal and is entrusted to our care. The Parish House holds office and classroom/meeting space, with one large Fellowship Hall for community and congregational gatherings. Built as a grand single-family home on 3 acres in 1867, Old Ship bought it in 1956 and added the “modern” fellowship hall in 1961. Records from 1949 show that parish leadership hoped that sometime in the future a parish house would be built next to the Meeting House, but in the meantime and for the next 65 years, this gracious house would serve the congregation.

Unfortunately, our congregation has been unable to afford the required maintenance of the building and large lot for a number of years, and the deterioration is showing. At 14,000 square feet, the building is too large and inefficient and needs major upgrades to its utilities and infrastructure. It is not ADA compliant. Major repairs would have to come at the expense of our core programs and the Old Ship Meeting House. Our congregation simply cannot afford to do that.

We believe that by selling the Parish House property to someone like DJ MacKinnon, it will be preserved. In other words, to save the Parish House, we have to sell it. At that point, Hingham’s strict zoning and historic regulations will ensure that any plans the new owner has for the property will fit with the character of Hingham Square. The Town will substantially gain in tax revenue from a new use, whereas now, as a church property, it is tax-exempt. Additionally, we are prepared to sell a small portion of the property to Hingham’s Affordable Housing Trust, so they can add a number of truly affordable units to the abutting Lincoln School Apartments.

The sale of 107 Main Street will enable Old Ship to build a purpose-built, energy-efficient, accessible, smaller and more functional Parish House on the land we own adjacent to the Meeting House at 90 Main. As per the terms of the historic preservation agreement between Old Ship and the Massachusetts Historical Commission (MHC), an intensive archeological survey was done of the Meeting House property.  It has been approved by MHC and we are ready to proceed with the design and permitting of the new Parish House. Construction of the new Parish House would be phased with construction at 107 Main Street, to minimize disruption.

We Old Shippers take our stewardship responsibility seriously – for 340 years we have maintained the Old Ship Meeting House, a National Historic Landmark, for both parish and public use – and we believe that these plans will add to the future vitality and the historic nature of our beloved Hingham Square. We hope that Hingham residents take the opportunity to work with Atlantic Development to help shape plans for 107 Main Street and support this unique opportunity to make a difference in Hingham for generations to come.

Starting the Community engagement process

From Atlantic Development

Atlantic Development is working with the Old Ship Church to plan a new Parish House at 90 Main Street and determine a thoughtful plan to generate funds from the existing Parish House property (107 Main Street) to meet the program needs for the new Parish House. Both the Trustees of Old Ship Church and Atlantic Development are committed to a community outreach process.

Atlantic Development will host a community meeting via zoom on Thursday, June 10 from 7:00 to 9:00 PM to begin the outreach process and receive suggestions from Hingham residents and other interested parties on potential future plans for the 107 Main Street property. Please email us at [email protected] to sign up for the zoom meeting and we will send you the zoom link.

A brief presentation on the goals of the Atlantic Development and potential framework to begin the planning process will be followed by an opportunity for meeting participants to ask questions and provide suggestions.

Atlantic Development will then host an on-site visit to the 107 Main Street property in mid-June. After reviewing the options, Atlantic Development will host an additional Zoom call in July to present and discuss the options.

To sign up for updates or to provide questions and/or comments please contact Geri Davis, Atlantic Development at [email protected].

2 thoughts on “New Life for the Old Ship Parish House”

  1. Thank you all for the many years of hard work and dedication it has taken to get to this point where the process can begin.

  2. I’ve known D.J. MacKinnon for a long time. D.J. is a great person who will be considerate of the long history of the Old Ship Parish House and will restore the building in a way that will continue to make us all proud of our historic town. Old Ship could not have chosen a better to partner to move forward.


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