The Chestnut Hill Meeting House

    The Chestnut Hill Meeting House has a special place in Mendon history. It has been preserved in time
    as one of the oldest unaltered meeting houses in New England. It was constructed before the
    Revolutionary War, and it appears today as it looked in 1769. Its history is unique in that it is shared
    with Blackstone and Millville, as town boundary lines changed in 1845 and 1916 respectively. It was
    built in Mendon's South Precinct for people to worship and to attend town meetings locally, instead of
    having to travel to Mendon center. The land was provided by Benoni Benson, who was the first settler
    in the south section of town. The building is a significant historical treasure, a gift to our generation
    from our ancestors of long ago.

    The construction of the building reflects the fine craftsmanship of the time period. The wood is hand-
    hewn post and beam, secured by wooden pegs. The pulpit is made from hand-carved wood in a
    Georgian style. Above it is a 15 foot by 15 foot double hung window. The round arched fan design
    includes eight panes of clear glass to illuminate the pulpit.  There are twenty-six box pews with doors
    and raised- panel walls and hand-carved spindles and rails. Each window contains twenty-four panes
    of glass, some of them original. The second floor has red oak benches. This well-built structure
    exemplifies the beauty and simplicity of the pre-Revolution era.

    One of the reasons for the building's excellent original condition status is that after two brief stays by
    Rev. Benjamin Balch, 1768--1773, and Rev. Perserved Smith, 1805--1812, the meeting house was
    locked up and used only annually for several years. By the early 1800's, the South Precinct's
    population centered toward the Blackstone River and away from the Chestnut Hill village. Many
    families moved closer to the river to take advantage of occupational opportunities provided by new
    mills and factories. The river-centered village would eventually be called Millville, and it offered new
    choices for worship and town meetings. The old meeting house remained unaltered and used only
    once a year.

    On its one hundredth anniversary in 1869, a new awareness prevailed of the building's importance in
    history. A group of descendants of the original Chestnut Hill settlers organized to work together to
    repair and cosmetically upgrade the building. Since then, in 1896, the Chestnut Street Meeting House
    and Cemetery Association was formed to ensure its preservation and promote its history. Current
    officers include Lincoln Barber, president; Margaret Carroll, vice president; Leo Gauthier, secretary;
    and Lois Baldiga, treasurer. It has been partnered by the National Park Service and the Mass.
    Department of Conservation and Recreation. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
    Membership is open to the public.  Funding for the building is raised from an annual fundraiser-
    Project Preserve, membership dues, donations, and rental fees.  The meeting house may be rented
    for meetings, weddings, funerals, and social gatherings. All proceeds benefit the upkeep of the
    building and associated cemeteries.

    Benoni Benson Jr. was actively involved with other Mendon residents in working with Boston's Sons of
    Liberty in the days that led up to the American Revolution. Impassioned cries for liberty in Boston were
    echoed at town meetings in Mendon in the late 1760's --1770's. Most assuredly, the walls and rafters
    of the meeting house were shaken with passionate pleas to break the bonds of tyranny from Great
    Britain. Benson became a lieutenant in Mendon's Third Militia Company and marched to Boston after
    the Battles of Lexington and Concord.  The Declaration of Independence was orated from here in July
    1776. Because of its preserved architectural structure, its patriotic use, and the time period in which it
    was built, it is obvious that the Chestnut Hill Meeting House is steeped in the spirit of the American
    Revolution. It has a special place in our history. It is a prized inheritance.

    Richard Grady
    November 1, 2012

                        
 Chestnut Street Meeting House Association                                        Mendon Menu   


                       1769 CHESTNUT HILL MEETING HOUSE AND CEMETERY

                            Corner of Chestnut Hill Road and Thayer Street, Millville, MA.
                                Formerly a village in the Towns of Mendon and Blackstone

    Benoni Benson Family Grave Sites

    To the left of the gate the following burial sites are found:

    1,10  William  H. Benson
    1.11  Sarah Benson
    1.12  Edwin Benson
    1.13  Horace Benson
    1.14  Sarah . Benson
    1.15  Marion A  Webster
    1.16  Horace A. Benson

    The following sites are found throughout the cemetery

    2.9  Charles Benson
    2.10 Adeline Benson
    2.11 Annarodin Benson

    5.2  Benson Plot
           Jared                                       Laurette  V.H.
           Sally Taft                                Jared
           James                                     Sylvanus
           Putnam S.                               Benoni Benson, 1806
           Deacon John Benson              Benoni Benson, 1761 *
                                                     * Inscription reads:  First White Settler
                                                   Note:  believed to be "in this area"

    5.3  Leander Benson
    5.4  Henry A. Benson
    5.5  Henry H. Benson
    5.6  Almira Benson
    5.7  Seth Benson
    5.12 Almira Farnum Benson

    6.4 Unidentified:  Possibly  ____
    6.5 Eliza Benson
    6.6 Mellen Benson
    6.7. Mary Benson
    6.8 Sarah E. Benson
    See Page 2    
    Benoni Benson Family Gravesites
    Chestnut Hill Meeting House Cemetery
    Millville, MA 01529


    7.9   Mr. Amasa Benson
    7.10 Lovina Benson
    7.11 Ann Eliza Benson

    10.3  Benoni Benson, 1781

    19.1  Elizabeth Benson

    20.1  Lovett Benson  s/o John and Joanna  d. 3/4/1773

    20.2   Henry Benson
    20.3   Rufus Benson
    20.4   Henry S. Benson
    20.5   Lydia Benson w/o Deacon John  
    20.6   Hannah Adeline Benson
    20.7  Harriet Benson
    20.8  George W. Benson
    20.9  Allenda Warfield Benson  w/o George W.  

    20.10 Otis Benson s/o George and Allenda  
    20.11 Harrison Benson
    21.1  Unidentified
    21.2  Joanna Benson  (may be the first burial in the cemetery  1743 or 1745)
    21.3 Deacon John Benson   
    21. 4 Prudence Benson  widow of  Benoni   d. 5/11/1789  Age:  94

    Total:  51

    Note:  Benson women who married are not included in this listing since their husband's names are
    not known to me.

    Margaret M. Carroll, Trustee
    Chestnut Street Meeting House and Cemetery Association  (1896)
    132 Main Street, Post Office Box 291, Millville, MA  01529

    Personal Data: taken from an Inventory I compiled, 1994-1998
    This was done to update an original inventory done by High School Student
    Leonel Clement in 1950.

                     Chestnut Street Meeting House and Cemetery Association

                                       Annual Service, September 9, 2012

    Good Day,  it is a good day to come together once again just as so many others have in the past.  For
    over Two Hundred and Forty Three years people like you have gathered here to pay tribute to the great
    nation they fought for and created.  

    In  just seven years, from the  time the Meeting House was built in 1769 to 1776, they had established
    their homesteads,  built this beautiful structure,fought a war, and listened to the words of the
    Declaration of Independence  read right here in this building. They were very much a part of the
    creation of new nation, The United States of America.

    Each generation of families came here to listen to the words of their preacher or to hear the news of
    what was happening in their new nation.

    They gave thanks for the growth of their village and offered their help to all those in need.  They shared
    their stories and their crops. They supported one another.  They lived in a peaceful community.

    Today we see this Meeting House as part of the Communities of Mendon, Blackstone and Millville.  
    And as in the past, we welcome the people of those towns and beyond to join with us as members of
    our Association.

    We invite you to become part of the Meeting House Community.

    Your commitment will be to attend three meetings a year, in September, May and January.  The dues
    are $10 annually.

    You will join us  as we work to meet the goals set by those original members One Hundred and
    Sixteen years ago.

    The object of this Association shall be the preservation and careof two ancient burial grounds and the
    car eand preservation of the old Meeting House.

    We renew our pledge today at our annual gathering. We celebrate with prayer and songs of praise to
    the Lord and to our Nation LET THE WORK OF THE FATHERS STAND