Edgewood Congregational Church has been a fixture of the historic Edgewood/Pawtuxet Village neighborhood in Rhode Island for 125 years. Our building serves as a neighborhood landmark, but more than that, it is a gathering space utilized not only by our congregation, but by friends and neighbors whose efforts make Edgewood/Pawtuxet a vibrant and welcoming community for all. Currently, our building houses the church, the Rhode Island Conference offices of the United Church of Christ, the You Rock! School of Music, and various other nonprofit organizations and community meetings and initiatives. We are proud to welcome all those who can benefit from our beautiful, historic building and use our space to grow and promote programs that improve our community.
The History of Edgewood UCC
by Jack Falk, longtime member
Our church property is located at 1788-1802 Broad Street in Cranston, Rhode Island. The bordering streets of the church are Albert Avenue and Arnold Avenue. They are named for Professor Albert N. Arnold (1814-1883). Dr. Arnold was a Professor at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois and a missionary to Greece for 12 years. He was the son of Nicholas Arnold and was born on the Arnold family farm on Broad Street. Dr. Arnold was a graduate of Brown University, Class of 1823.
In 1891 the Edgewood neighborhood was primarily a “summer seashore resort”. The summer residents began expressing a desire for religious services and they began conducting worship services in their homes. On November 8, 1891 the first public service was held in the Edgewood Casino on Shaw Avenue in Cranston with an attendance of 110. On New Year's Eve, 1891, the first Sunday School was held in the home of George R. and Angenetta M. Babbitt on Shaw Avenue.
George Rodney Babbitt (1842-1912), President and Treasurer of American Oil Co. and his wife Angenetta are due the honor of interesting Edgewood residents in the need for a Congregational Church. At one time they were part owners of the whole of Shaw Avenue. Their residence to this day is a private residence on Shaw Avenue. Edgewood Congregational Church was organized under two separate and distinct bodies. The first was the Edgewood Congregational Society whose charter of incorporation was granted in 1892. It was to be the legal head, to hold the charter and be responsible for the temporal concerns of the organization. The first recorded minutes of the Society was on October 27th, 1891, when George R. Babbitt contacts Union Congregational Church on steps to be taken for starting a church and is referred to the Rhode Island Home Missionary Society, which handles new church starts for the Congregational Churches. A loan of $3500 is obtained and a cornerstone laid in 1901.
The Edgewood Congregational Society continued until February 5, 1918 when it was decided they relinquish all claims to any and all property and real estate held by the Society to the Board of Trustees of the Edgewood Congregational Church.
Edgewood Congregational Church was incorporated in 1898 as the spiritual body of the church. It was on November 5, 1894 that 31 persons, 24 women and 7 men, came together under the leadership of our first pastor, William J. Murphy, to formally organize the Edgewood Congregational Church. This was the culmination of three years of meetings in homes and the organization of the Sunday School and the Ladies Good Will Society. The cornerstone of the new $13,000 brick edifice was laid on September 12, 1901. In 1923 changes and additions were completed, including the Arnold Avenue wing. Disaster struck on Sunday afternoon, February 24, 1946; a fire completely destroyed the sanctuary and caused extensive damage to the rest of the building. Regular worship services were held in the Harmony Lodge and the Church of the Transfiguration. The new sanctuary was dedicated in January 1950 with other parts of the building not being completed until 1954. In 1966 the church was enlarged, a cupola was added and the enclosed connector was built.
To date, Edgewood has welcomed over 2,000 members and 16 settled pastors. We are currently in a period of discernment, with interim pastor Reverend Nancy Hamlin Soukup serving our congregation's pastoral needs.