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.
November 1, 2012
Chestnut Street Meeting House Association Mendon Menu
1769 CHESTNUT HILL MEETING HOUSE AND CEMETERY
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
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
21.2 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
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
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
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