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First Unitarian Church, Baltimore

Photo © Matthew Kuhnert. View all images in our First Unitarian Church Photo Gallery.
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There are many First Unitarian Churches in the United States, but the First Unitarian Church in Baltimore really deserves the name. It was here in 1819 that Unitarianism was first defined as a denomination.


The First Unitarian Church of Baltimore was founded as the "First Independent Church of Baltimore" in 1817. The architect was Maximilien Godefroy, who also designed St. Mary's Seminary Chapel and Battle Monument in Baltimore.

On May 5, 1819, Dr. William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) delivered the "Baltimore Sermon" that defined the newly emerging Unitarian denomination in America. The occasion was the ordination of a minister, and Channing took the opportunity to explain the beliefs of the church. He began,

He went on to explain why the doctrine of the Trinity should be rejected, which is the main defining characteristic of Unitarians. The Unitarians joined with the Universalists in 1961, forming today's Unitarian Universalist denomination.

The church building has remained mostly unchanged since its construction. The architect Joseph E. Sperry added a barrel vault ceiling as part of a renovation in 1893, in order to correct the poor acoustics of the original dome. The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

What to See

The First Unitarian Church is Neoclassical in style, a large white cube topped with a dome. It is fronted with a portico or narthex with three round arches.

The facade is adorned with a terra cotta relief of the "Angel of Truth," originally sculpted by Antonio Capellano. On a scroll is a Greek inscription that translates "To the One God." The present relief is a replica, made by Baltimore sculptor Henry Berge (1908-1998) in the late 1950s to replace the decayed original.

Inside, the wide nave is topped with a barrel vault of 1893. The organ also dates from 1893. The chancel is decorated with a large mosaic of the Last Supper and stained glass windows, both from the studios of Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Quick Facts on First Unitarian Church

Site Information
Names:First Unitarian Church; First Unitarian Church, Baltimore
Faiths:Christianity; Unitarian
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Coordinates:39.295392° N, 76.615793° W  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of First Unitarian Church

Below is a location map and aerial view of First Unitarian Church. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.


  1. First Unitarian Church of Baltimore - official website
  2. First Unitarian Church - Fodor's

More Information

Article Info

Title:First Unitarian Church, Baltimore
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:10/25/2009
Link code:<a href="http://www.sacred-destinations.com/usa/baltimore-first-unitarian-church/usa/baltimore-first-unitarian-church">First Unitarian Church, Baltimore</a>