SLAVE PEWS, TOWNSEND, MA
Built in 1730, the Townsend meeting house stood on Meeting House Hill Road. When the town outgrew it, a larger one was built in 1770. Wanting a more central location, the meeting house was taken apart and moved to the center of town in the winter of 1804 where it stands today. The Methodist’s purchased the meeting house in 1852.
Inside the United Methodist Church are four carefully preserved, very narrow seats or pews. Commonly known as the “slave pews”, they are located in the tower overlooking the sanctuary and are reached by the bell tower stairs. Documented in The Squannicook Parish booklet by Rev. Charlton in 1917 as "four pews in the attic for the Negroes, which still remain as originally built." And from Sawtelle's History of Townsend, "over the stairs at the West end were seats for Negroes, the small remnant of the Race that was here at the beginning of the century" (1800). Whether freed slaves or runaway slaves ever used the four narrow pews is unknown, but this is where the black members of the church had to sit. It is believed that these are the only such pews in any church in the country, and are preserved as historical evidence of the past.