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Wollaston Congregational Church, Quincy, Massachusetts




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HISTORY OF THE CHURCH

Original church, ca. 1890

The Wollaston Congregational Church was originally founded in 1876 when 11 men signed a pact for the preaching of the gospel in the village of Wollaston. In May of 1876, the congregation dedicated the first church with 21 charter members. The original wooden church served the needs of the congregaton for many years.

Following the custom of those days pews were rented, costing from $1.00 to $10.00 each. The church struggled financially for the first 10 years or so, but as the surrounding community grew, church membership grew; and in May 1891 the church finances had improved to the point where they could afford to build the parsonage at a cost of $5,850.00.

The Silver Jubilee was celebrated by the Pastor, Reverend Edward Chase, delivering an historical address outling the events of the church's first 25 years. Among the highlights was the organization of the first Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor in 1886. On November 15, 1898, the Wollaston Congregational Church became a Massachusetts Corporation. Subsequently, the Wollaston Congregational Society turned over all its real and personal assets.


Rev. Sneath (left) at the Parish House Cornerstone Laying Ceremony, 1915

On January 7, 1906, the free pew system was adopted. This meant that people no longer had a pew for themselves, but subscribed to church expenses as we do with our pledges today. On April 28, 1915, the cornerstone of the Parish House was laid. Children of the Sunday School released ballons while the tune "America" was played. Some of the items in this cornerstone were a bufallo nickel and a Lincoln cent, both dated 1914, a souvenir lead pencil for the parish house fund, and a baseball.

On November 14, 1915, the Parish House was dedicated. At the front of the first floor, where the Church Office is now, was a room used by the Sunday School. Next was a hall with a kitchen in the rear. The second floor is essentially the same now as it was then. In 1950 a portion of the Ladies's Parlor was set off for the Church Offices. The church offices were later moved to the first floor at their present location.

On May 4, 1916, a Fortieth Anniversary supper was held at a cost of 35 cents per person. On May 29, 1918, the Women's Union was formed. During World War I these ladies furnished comfort bags to each of the church men in uniform and a great deal of sewing was done for the Red Cross and various hospitals.

On June 14, 1925, the cornerstone was laid for our present Church building, the old building having been razed. During construction, Church Services were held in the upper hall of the Parish House. The new church was designed by the renowned Boston firm of Smith, Horton, and Walker, who designed many churches in the Boston area during the period of 1921-1942.


Completed new church, ca. 1931.

In 1925 they designed the Wollaston Congregational Church in the in the Gothic Revival style with a beautiful octagonal spire set on an asymmetrically placed square tower. The strong vertical thrust and high slate roof punctuate the Winthrop Avenue skyline in an impressive way. The desired picturesque quality is achieved by the presence of the short tower on the left of the gabled facade, by the louvered, pinnacled, broach spire with a rooster weathervane, by the projecting minister's study and choir room set on either side of the chancel, by the side entry porch and by the irregular fenestration, lancet type windows in all sizes. Together with the Tudor Revival Parish House adjacent to it, they create a fine enclave of English derived architecture and are a significant contribution to the Wollaston area. Dedication of the new Church was held on Palm Sunday, March 26, 1926. On May 2, 1926, a 50th Anniversary Service was held at which time a new organ was dedicated.

On Sunday morning, October 17, 1926, the beautiful stained glass window in our present chancel, was dedicated. This was a gift from Charles P. Hutchins in loving memory of Ellen W. Marshall. The theme of the design is "Service." This theme is shown forth by the figure of Christ and by a series of seven subjects in medallions, all relating to the theme of Christian service.

In 1951 we celebrated the 75th Anniversary of the Church with the burning of the mortgage and the installation of the tower chimes. These chimes were a gift from Arthur Lock in memory of his wife Elsie. At this time our church membership was about 800. This was a significant drop from the previous year when we hit our all-time high of 909 members, and the beginning of a downward spiral had started.

In 1957, at a meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, at which our Minister, Reverend Roland Nye, was a delegate, the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian Church voted to merge to form the United Church of Christ. In 1963, a building committee was formed; after a great deal of study and thought, significant changes were made in the church structure.

The Social Hall was a gym three or four feet lower than what it now is. A stage was where we now have the kitchen. As previously mentioned, there was a hall behind the church offices with a kitchen on the first floor of the Parish House. The gym was filled in to the level of the stage, and the kitchen was moved from the Parish House to the stage area. The area behind the church offices was then made into classrooms for the Church School.

On May 8, 1976, the 100th Anniversary dinner was held to celebrate our Centennial. The next day, Sunday, a special anniversary service was held. At this time, a member of this church, Harold Hodges, refurbished his model, which he himself had designed and built in 1971, of the Church and Parish House. This model is now in the Narthex.

Another significant date in the life of the church was April 20, 1984 when we were saddened by the death of our Minister, Reverend LLoyd F. Martin, and a living memorial, in the form of a white flowering dogwood tree was planted on the Church grounds.


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