EARLY LOCAL ROOTS
While the current congregation was founded as the Unitarian Fellowship of Poughkeepsie in 1952, there was an earlier Unitarian church in Poughkeepsie. A handful of members from this earlier church were quite happy when the Fellowship was founded, and were among the earliest people to sign the new membership book.
Founded in or around 1913, and functioning through at least 1932, this congregation met in the Hicksite Friend's Meeting House at 12 Lafayette Place in downtown Poughkeepsie. The charming little building, shown here, was built in 1894 and demolished in the 1970s. In its place is a parking lot for St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church.
Famed Unitarian Jabez Sunderland was the minister from 1914 until 1927. Part time, he commuted from New York City, where he lived.
Even though our particular congregation was Unitarian when founded, we have been, since the merger in 1961, a Unitarian Universalist congregation. Research indicates that the roots of Universalism in Poughkeepsie go back even further than those of Unitarianism.
The First Universalist Society was officially organized in 1836, although there is no official record of where the Society met until 1842, when they purchased the Baptist Church on Mill Street. That building, no longer standing, was sold shortly thereafter, and the Society appears to have met in various locations until purchasing the Presbyterian Church on Cannon Street in 1850. That building was sold in 1873, and at some point the Society purchased a building on Lafayette Place, interestingly enough, which they occupied for some period of time in the 1880s.
A Universalist minister by the name of Edwin or Edward Rogers living in Poughkeepsie in the 1840s was one of 303 Universalist ministers who signed a petition against slavery published in several national abolitionist newspapers and magazines in April, May and June of 1846.