By Robert L. Howie, Jr., Historian Emeritus and Chair, Tercentenary Committee
All Saints Day
November 1, 2015

More than 50 years ago the idea was proposed of erecting a steeple to replace the one that graced St. Michael’s from 1714-1793, when it was taken down, bring rotten. A decade ago the idea of a new steeple fired our imaginations as we began planning our 300th anniversary and our fourth century.

With the erection of the steeple, a cherished wish for many has come true, and what is old is new again. It is and will remain the most visible of our 300th anniversary gifts to ourselves, and a landmark in the Marblehead skyline. On a practical level, it will make it easier for people to find us, which has not always been easy.

While the new steeple more accurately reflects the exterior appearance of the original church, the motivation was not to look back to the 18th century, but forward into the 21st and beyond. The steeple is less historical than aspirational, an outward and visible symbol of our mission to proclaim the Gospel and to seek transformation in God’s grace.

A steeple is often the first thing you see of a church from a distance, which is intentional. A steeple reminds the faithful not only of where they should go to worship, but also that they should worship. It is part of its function. If you can see the church, then the church—and God—can see you; the steeple implies that you are safe within the protection of the church. It draws our attention upward, towards Heaven, and to God. While the weathervane has a civic function—telling us the wind direction, it also has a religious one—reminding us of God’s presence in every direction, and the extent of his creation. It also reminds us that whichever way the wind blows, we will not be blown off course, as the church is our anchor to windward.

And so it is fitting that on All Saints Day we conclude our 300th anniversary celebrations with the lighting of our steeple, a bookend, if you will, the last act of our Tercentenary. We would like to thank Steven Rosen, lighting designer; Andy Robinson, electrician; Ed Nilsson, project architect; and Jean Howe, whose generous gift enabled the installation of the lighting.

The steeple helps us communicate and proclaim to the wider community and beyond why we exist, what we believe, who we are, and to welcome one and all to this House of God. We celebrate our past as a source of continuity and strength, our present as we live out the Gospel in this place, and with the church as our foundation, joyfully set our course for the future.

Online Video of Tercentenary Events Now Available

We’re pleased to announce that we are starting to make video of the events from our Tercentenary available for online streaming at our Vimeo site. The first events that are available here are:

  • The steeple raising on August 28, 2014;
  • The September 28, 2014 Michaelmas service with the Bishop of London; and
  • The recession and Lee Mansion reception after the September 28 service.

Click the link above or go to to watch the videos. We will be uploading more video to this site over the next few weeks.

Walking Tours Sept. 7 & 14

Transformations in Marblehead & St. Michael’s Church
1714 > 1793 > 1814 > 1833 > 2014
Judy Anderson will lead walking tours to benefit St. Michael’s
Sunday, September 7 at 4 pm
Sunday, September 14 at 4 pm
Meet in front of St. Michael’s entrance on Summer St.

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Sun 09/07/2014 -
Sun 09/14/2014
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

St. Michael's Episcopal Church


Judy Anderson
Judy Anderson

Judy Anderson will lead us on a walking tour looking at

  • how Marblehead grew after 1714 when St. Michael’s was built with its 50-foot steeple
  • how houses changed after the American Revolution (1775-1781/83) & the War of 1812
  • how St. Michael’s changed in 1833 to a Gothic Revival style

Your donation of $10 per person will go toward the construction of St. Michael’s steeple which was set in place on Thursday, August 28th.

Steeple Raising Thurs Aug 28 at 12:15 pm

Join us on Thursday, August 28th at 12:15 pm as St. Michael’s new steeple is lifted onto the bell tower. Cake will be served on the lawn afterwards as the spire is being secured. The weathervane will then be placed on top later in the afternoon.

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Thu 08/28/2014
12:00 am

St. Michael's Episcopal Church

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Work on repairs to the bell tower is proceeding on schedule and structural reinforcement put in place. See photos at our Flickr site. Fencing for the roof has already arrived and the spire itself will arrive in 3 parts on Wednesday, August 27.

On Thursday morning, August 28th, Summer Street will be blocked at the church while the 3 parts are unloaded. Then the base will be assembled, raised and secured. After brief speeches at about 12:15 pm, the top part of the spire will be raised about 12:30 pm. All are invited for celebratory cake on the lawn at about 1:00 pm. Once the spire is secured, the weathervane will be attached, in the mid-afternoon.

St. Michael’s Exhibit

300 Years Serving a Community
St. Michael’s Church
1714 – 2014

Three towers outline St. Michael’s history from the origins of its design and key aspects in the 18th Century through changes in the 19th and key developments in the 20th.  A fourth tower highlights St. Michael’s music, children, serving others and remembering our forefathers and mothers.  The three towers were on display at the Old Town House Memorial Day weekend with portraits, documents and related items.  The towers were again displayed at the Peabody Essex Museum during the symposium while the fourth tower and various artifacts were displayed at the symposium.  The fourth tower will be up for the Lobster Lunch and all four will stand together once renovations are complete.


May 24-26: St. Michael’s Exhibition Opens at Town House

The history of one of New England’s most historic churches will be told in a new exhibition on view over Memorial Day weekend in Marblehead’s recently restored 1727 Old Town House. Among the topics discussed are the early history of Marblehead, the founding of the church in 1714, its struggles for survival in the 19th century, architectural changes and enhancements through the 20th century, and St. Michael’s role as a vital community partner serving generations of Marblehead residents for three centuries.

Exhibition hours: Saturday, May 24, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.; Sunday, May 25 and Monday, May 26, 12 noon to 4:00 p.m.

The exhibition is fully accessible.

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Sat 05/24/2014 -
Mon 05/26/2014
9:00 am - 5:00 pm

Old Town House


Included in the exhibition is a selection of manuscripts from St. Michael’s extensive archival collection as well as ecclesiastical and decorative art objects owned and used in the church from the 18th to the 21st centuries.

May 18: 1928 Book Of Common Prayer Service

Up until the 1978 Book of Common Prayer, it was customary to have Morning Prayer most Sundays at the mid-morning service and Holy Communion only once or twice a month. On Sunday, May 18, we will hold our third “historical” service celebrating our 300th
anniversary. The 8:00 and 10:00 services on May 18 will be
services of Morning Prayer following the liturgy of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. The 8:00 service is a said service; the 10:00 service will include music. Please mark your calendars!

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Sun 05/18/2014
8:00 am - 11:30 am

St. Michael's Episcopal Church