Until 1783 Worcester had only one church. The congregation met at the meeting house, located on the site of present-day City Hall. The meeting house was not only the place of worship but was a center of the town’s activities. Town meetings were held there, and the stocks used to publicly punish offenders of local law were kept in the meeting house when not in use.
It was a large building, measuring 70 feet by 55 feet, with a 130-foot spire.
Seats were assigned and purchased; the most prominent people in town held the most prominent pews. Before the Revolution, they were occupied by Tories such as the Paines, Chandlers, and Putnams.
The star in front of City Hall marks the spot where, on July 14, 1776, Isaiah Thomas stood on the western porch of the meeting house and delivered the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Massachusetts. The marker was placed by the Worcester Society of Antiquity (now Worcester Historical Museum) in 1897.