In many ways, the town of Chelmsford and First Parish have been intertwined
since their inceptions. From the invitation to the Rev. Fiske and his congregation in
the early 1650’s to the present, the Town and the congregation have shared their
histories. The present meetinghouse, the fourth building on this site, served as both a religious and government center as did its three predecessors. It was erected in 1842 after the third building burned down. The Chelmsford Town Hall had offices in the basement and town social affairs were held there until 1879, when the Town Hall was built across the common. There have been many renovations and much maintenance over the years, both inside and out. The church steeple has been the focus of many projects.
In 1876 the original steeple blew down, the result of a tremendous wind storm that caused much destruction in the area.
Also in 1876, a committee of public spirited citizens was formed to purchase a clock. A year later, the clock was purchased and installed in the base of the First Parish steeple at a cost of $463.16. Although the clock was installed in the meetinghouse, a group called the Chelmsford Village Clock Association had the responsibility for maintaining it until 1892, when the group was disbanded and the Town took over its responsibilities. The town still has the responsibility for the maintenance and weekly winding of the clock.
In 1910, and again in 1955, the steeple was hit by lightning and then repaired. In January 1977, the Lowell Sun reported that the Chelmsford Clock was in trouble. The Chelmsford Historic Commission determined that the structure supporting the clock had been "worn down". An article was presented to the Town Meeting to fund repairs.
By 1981 the steeple structure was in dire need of repairs. Various beams, clock supports, floors, roof, and shingles were replaced and the new work was painted. There were no Town funds available for this restoration project, so a public committee, the "Historic Town Clock Preservation Fund" was formed to raise the money for repairs.
Since the 1981 project, the steeple has received minor repairs and maintenance paid for by the First Parish congregation.