A Wider World: Mrs. Eddy Leaves Lynn

  • William O. Bisbee

In late January 1882, Mary Baker Eddy left her home at 8 Broad Street in Lynn, Massachusetts, for the last time. She and Asa Gilbert Eddy were traveling to Washington, D.C., where Gilbert would investigate copyright law, and Mrs. Eddy would lecture on Christian Science. Their final destination, however, was the larger audience of Boston. Three years earlier, in a letter to a student, she had alluded to this eventual progression: “I have lectured in parlors fourteen years. God calls me now to go before the people in a wider sense.”1 Her home in Lynn had been vital as a base to lay a foundation for her movement and as a staging ground for the work that lay ahead in Boston.

The development of Mrs. Eddy’s move to Boston occurred in three stages. Her initial foray took place when she started commuting into the city on Sundays to give afternoon sermons or Bible lessons. She commenced at the Tabernacle Baptist Church on Shawmut Avenue, preaching Sundays from November 24, 1878, through February 2, 1879. On February 16, she began preaching at Fraternity Hall in the Parker Memorial Building on Appleton Street, concluding there on June 29. The second stage of Mrs. Eddy’s transition to Boston was her ten-month residency there beginning in November 1879. That winter, the first series of services were held by the newly organized Church of Christ (Scientist) at Hawthorne Hall, located at number 2 Park Street. The third and final stage of the transition culminated in the Eddys’ move to Boston in the spring of 1882.

Mrs. Eddy’s home 8 Broad Street in Lynn, Mass. Her husband Asa Gilbert Eddy is visible in the second floor window. Longyear Museum collection.

Although Mrs. Eddy was leaving Lynn for the larger forum of Boston, it was at 8 Broad Street where she launched her movement. Here she completed the first edition of her book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, in the small skylight room on the third floor. Here her students voted on July 4, 1876, to form the Christian Scientist Association — the first organized body of Mrs. Eddy’s students. Many of these students were taught in the home’s first-floor parlor. At this time, Mary Baker Glover married Asa Gilbert Eddy on January 1, 1877. Here also Mrs. Eddy was ordained Pastor of her church on November 9, 1881. Additionally, the Massachusetts Metaphysical College was chartered while Mrs. Eddy lived at this house; when she moved to Boston, she reopened the College at her new residence on Columbus Avenue.

The day before leaving Lynn in January 1882, Mrs. Eddy wrote to her student Julia S. Bartlett, enclosing a poem titled “To the Church of Christ (Scientist)” that she wanted Miss Bartlett to read to the congregation. Within the lines of the poem, a reader may be able to sense Mrs. Eddy’s feeling as she prepared to leave the place where she had taken her first organizational steps, where she had faced resistance, even hostility, as well as gained support. The verses allude to thunderstorms and battlefields, the dark of night, and bearing the cross — imagery that must have resonated in the light of the challenges she and her church had faced. Yet they stood their ground and were still “going on” to “fulfill each hope and aim,/Conquer sickness, sin, and blame,” as the poem states.2 In her reminiscence, Julia Bartlett attributes authorship of the poem to Mrs. Eddy, but recent Longyear Museum research has uncovered that Mrs. Eddy was adapting a broadly circulated poem of her time, “We are going On,” by John Plummer.3 In adapting this poem for the needs of her church, Mrs. Eddy dropped one stanza, restructured the verse order, and altered some of its wording — for instance, revising Plummer’s “With the aid of art and science” to “With the aid of God’s own Science.” In one instance, she alters Plummer’s refrain, “We are going on,” to “Sisters, labor on” and in another instance to “I shall labor on.”

Number 8 Broad Street had been the backdrop for many important developments of the Christian Science movement, and Mrs. Eddy herself said that without her home in Lynn she could never have completed Science and Health. Her nearly seven years of growth and experience there prepared her for the wider world in Boston and the crucial tasks that lay ahead. As the poem she sent to Bartlett concludes: “Truth and right my sole reliance,/ I shall labor on.”4


  1. Mary Baker Eddy to Clara Choate, January 24, 1879, in The Mary Baker Eddy Collection, The Mary Baker Eddy Library, Boston, Massachusetts.
  2. We Knew Mary Baker Eddy (Expanded Edition: Volume I. Boston: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 2011), 59. The full poem can be found on pages 58-59.
  3. “We Are Going On”, The Penny Newsman, November 22, 1863, London, in Newspaper Archive, http://newspaperarchive.com/penny-newsman/1863-11-22/page-7. This is the earliest publication date of the poem found. There is evidence that it was published as far away as Dunedin, New Zealand in 1865 and reprinted in London in 1866 and 1871.
  4. We Knew Mary Baker Eddy (Expanded Edition: Volume I), 59.

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