In the summer of 1864 a small group of Amherst Episcopalians asked the Reverend Frederic Dan Huntington, Rector of Emmanuel Church, Boston, and summer resident of his family home in nearby Hadley (now the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum) to hold services for them. With the backing of the Huntington family, Grace Church was quickly organized. The first rector, the Reverend Samuel P. Parker, was called in November 1864. Services were held in the Amherst Academy on Amity Street until the congregation purchased land on the eastern edge of the Town Common. They laid the cornerstone of a chapel there on July 25, 1865.
A major figure in mid-19th century Gothic Revival church design in America, English émigré Henry Dudley designed the Gothic Revival stone structure, modeling it after medieval Oxford churches. His use of gneiss from Pelham accords with his ecclesiological principle of clear and honest use of materials. On March 2, 1866 the first service was held in the church and on July 17, 1867, the building was consecrated by the Bishop of Massachusetts. The Bell Tower was added in 1868 and the adjacent colonial house was purchased in 1870, serving first as a rectory and later as offices. An apartment was added to the Old Rectory in 1982.
Click on the images below to view full size photos of the history of Grace Church.