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First Parish Parsonage


Also known as the Gray House

The parking lot and shopping center opposite from the Pine Hill Cemetery were developed about 1960. Prior to that time, two houses were in this location. The northernmost was the parsonage for the First Parish Church, built in 1787 for Rev. Robert Gray, and was used until 1832. Worthy of remembrance is the fact that no rum was consumed at the raising of the frame of the parsonage, an event of startling importance in 1787. In those days, men engaged in the raising would never fix the ridgepole in its place until their cry, "the ridgepole won't suit!" was answered by a bottle of rum. A sip all around would remedy the difficulty in a marvelous manner. The bottle was then thrown in the air, oftentime with doggerel verses being repeated, and the lucky boy who could get it first became its owner. This was the local custom, but at the raising of the parsonage, no rum was furnished. This occasioned these lines:

            "Jerry is gone and Robert is come,
              So we'll put on the ridgepole without any rum..."

alluding to the departing pastor Jeremy Belknap and the incoming Mr. Gray.
    From the 1987 Heritage Walking Tour booklet.

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