In 1714, a group of benefactors and subscribers, sea captains, and Marblehead donors sent a letter to their most generous benefactor, Col. Francis Nicholson, describing the steps they had made to organize and to erect a “Handsome Church” for followers of the Church of England in Marblehead. The next year the Marblehead parish had its first Church of England priest sent over by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG or SPGFP). St. Michael’s is the oldest Episcopal Church in New England still standing on its original site and worshiping in its original building. In 2014, the Church will celebrate its 300th anniversary.
The original square church was expanded by one third in 1728 with a new roof, but includes its original cross-vaulted ceiling. The “reredos” (the painted board behind the altar containing the Ten Commandments, the Lord’s Prayer and the Creed) also dates to 1714. The chandelier was given to St. Michael’s in 1732 by John Elbridge, Esq., Collector of the Port of Bristol, England. In 1793 the 50-foot steeple was removed from the top of the bell tower. The building was substantially renovated in 1833 with pointed-arch clear windows, slip pews, and the pulpit and altar gathered together on the north wall. In 1888, the large stained glass windows were installed by Redding & Baird under direction of the Rector, the Rev. John L. Egbert. The 1974 C.B. Fisk organ, housed in a restored 1833 case, is a significant addition to St. Michael’s rich liturgical tradition.
Our long history has great significance not only because of what our congregations have witnessed throughout many generations, but also because of the continual renewal of seeking and engaging in God’s grace.