The Unitarian Church in Lincoln has a long and interesting history. The first meeting of the First Universalist Society of Lincoln was held on September 1, 1870. Charter members of the Society included W. W. Holmes, S. J. Tuttle, J. H. Parker, Mrs. Sarah Parker, Mrs. Julia Brown, Mrs. Laura B. Pound and Mrs. Mary Monell.
First Universalist Society incorporation, 1870, p. 1 [NSHS RG1054.AM, B1, F1]
First Universalist Society incorporation, 1870, p. 2 [NSHS RG1054.AM, B1, F1]
Three lots at the northwest corner of 12th and H Streets were granted to the Society by the State Legislature. Over the next two years they raised funds to build a chapel. The corner stone was laid in October of 1871, and the chapel was dedicated on June 23, 1872. Before the completion of the chapel building, services were occasionally held in the senate chamber of the State Capitol.
First Universalist Church (Lincoln, Neb.) ca. 1872. [NSHS RG2158.PH000016-000016]
The next twenty years showed a steady increase in membership, and a new, larger church was needed. A new brick church was built in 1892 on the same lot as the original chapel. This church was dedicated on September 24, 1893. It was this church building that would later become known as All Souls Unitarian Church.
All Souls Unitarian Church (Lincoln, Neb.), located at 12 & H Streets. [NSHS RG2158.PH000016-000024]
Financial difficulties during the mid-1890s bore heavily on the church. A number of members moved away from Lincoln and the church building itself was heavily mortgaged. In 1896 the First Universalists approached the Universalist General Convention for financial assistance but were denied. They continued to hold regular church services until February of 1898 when they entered negotiations with the American Unitarian Association. On May 27, 1898, a vote was held to officially affiliate with the American Unitarian Association. It was at this meeting that the All Souls Unitarian Church was formed. The newly formed Unitarian church had a total of 96 charter members. The Unitarian Church remained at 12th & H Streets until 1961 when a new church was built at 6300 A Street. The first church service was held at the new church on October 1, 1961.
Unitarian Church auction sale bill, 1961. [NSHS RG1054.AM, B1, F2]
The Nebraska State Historical Society holds the early records of the Unitarian Church from it’s beginnings through about 1961 when they moved to their current location. Thanks to our Archives intern, Nina Herzog, a more complete finding aid for the collection is now available on our website. -Tom Mooney, Curator of Manuscripts