In 1858, South Newbury Union Chapel made history by being built as a “foundation for free speech”. In 2012, it made history again by being listed on The National Registry of Historic Places with a plaque marking it as so, being placed on the building October 3, 2012. Within these years, this single room building has made much more history; history that changed not only our county but also our country.
The history of Union Chapel began when James A. Garfield was refused access to speak at a Congregationalist ‘Brick Church’ on fear that his topic would be controversial. Anson Matthews, who invited Garfield to speak, then donated the land in 1857 so that they could build a place where the people had a voice. The Union Chapel was built by local people through their donations of materials and labor. It became personal to them, and from that moment, it became a foundation for the biggest change in women’s history.