On January 22, 1890, at 2:30 am, a fire badly damaged the meetinghouse of the First Parish of West Roxbury. The fire was a crushing blow. There was controversy as to whether the old church should be repaired or should it be moved to a new site in the middle of town. Those who wanted to maintain the church building had it evaluated for repair and moving. A builder assessed its condition and stated that it was not possible to safely move it. Sadly, the old church stood abandoned and empty until 1914 when it was finally razed and the property sold.
At this time, the First Parish congregation split and the more liberal members of the congregation formed the Unitarian Society in Roslindale. Those who remained in West Roxbury built a new structure in the center of town. The corner stone was laid on October 14, 1891. In their new location, the congregation thrived and this building was quickly outgrown. It is now the Theodore Parker Church parish hall.
The plan for the second meetinghouse began in 1899. The building designed by Henry M. Seaver, the son of congregation members. He had been a draftsman in the office of Longfellow, Alden & Harlow and was a student at M. I. T. when he planned this building. He later became a well-regarded architect especially in the western portion of Massachusetts. This building, the current sanctuary, was dedicated in 1900.
A number of furnishings from the abandoned Church Street building were incorporated into both the Centre and Corey Streets buildings: Theodore Parker’s pulpit continues to be used, an 1802 clock continues to time the services, and the G. H. Holbrook bell is rung each Sunday. Pew doors, recovered from the old church pews, were used to provide wainscotting for two rooms in the 1890 building and woodwork in various areas of the 1900 sanctuary building.