History: The history of St. Bernard Church actually begins with the Baptists. In the early 1700's, a Baptist congregation was gathered in Assonet. In 1781, they were organized as the First Baptist Church. In 1783, the congregation built a meetinghouse on a small rise called Ridge Hill at the southern end of the town between the shipping wharves and the military muster grounds (now Assonet Burial Grounds). In 1807, during the revival known as the "Great Awakening", the Baptist congregation reorganized as what was later called the First Christian Church. Those who decided to remain Baptist moved their community to Fall River. The original Baptist meeting house was shortly torn down as unstable and in 1833 the present structure was built at a cost of $3,000. An historic cemetery in the shadow of the church is, to this day, the final resting place of these early church members. In 1863, a 600-pound bell was hung in the church steeple. It is still in use. In 1867, the architecture of the building was significantly modified. The faade, windows, and interior were changed radically and a parsonage was built next to the church. The building retained, however, the look of a classic New England village church. In the Great Gale of 1868, part of the steeple and the new bell came crashing through the roof of the church, splintering the pews. No one was in the church at the time and there were no injuries. The bell was returned to its steeple and is still in use, apparently unscathed by it's fall. In 1886, a cottage on Water Street caught fire and blowing embers ignited the roof of the church. The building would have been engulfed had it not been for the quick action of a volunteer bucket brigade. After this narrow escape, the town voted to purchase its first fire equipment. The singed roof beams are still visible in the rafters of the church. This historic building, in 1979, became the home of the parishioners of St. Bernard faith community.