In 1958, West Boylston celebrated its Sesquicentennial (150th) Anniversary! Here are some photos from the festivities. Tag or let us know if you know anyone in a photo!
See more photos by clicking the link below.
The Beaman Oak is a symbol of West Boylston featured on our town seal. Its origins date back to pre-Revolutionary War times, when West Boylston was part of the larger town of Shrewsbury. The Beaman Oak was a tree on town founder Ezra Beaman's property beside his family's cemetery. According to legend, Ezra filled the Beaman Oak with large iron spikes to ward off vandals.
The original tree no longer exists, as it was cut down during construction of the reservoir.
In the pictures, a Boy Scout plants a new Beaman Oak on the town common at a large ceremony in early spring 1958. Unfortunately, this tree's life ended quickly, as local high school students chopped the tree down shortly after its planting. In 1974, another new Beaman Oak was planted, this time out front of the Beaman Memorial Library. This Beaman Oak thankfully still stands, a testament to West Boylston's colonial roots and the stubborn, proud man who strove to form a new town for his community.
The Old Stone Church was built in the 1890s and used as a church for only a few years. Below we see three pictures detailing the Church’s life from its construction to modern day. In the first, the oldest, taken sometime in the 1890s or early 1900s, the Church is ready to use, with its heavy wooden doors and stained glass windows. The windows, doors, and interior of the Church were moved to a new Church which is now the Masonic Lodge on Church Street. There’s also a carriage house behind the Church where people could park their carriages and leave their horses during services.
In 1973, the Church's roof caved in, leaving it in the pile of rubble that we see in the second picture below. Only the front and rear walls remained standing. Some town residents report that they heard the crash of the roof collapsing in the early morning.
The Church we see today is heavily restored and updated. It looks identical to its pre-collapse state, minus the windows, doors, and interior. The roof and some of the granite along the sides are made of new material and are not original to the structure. The Church’s surroundings have obviously changed as well: more trees and shrubs, no pathways, no carriage houses, and a man-made lake where a town once stood. Only the Old Stone Church remains to remind us of the town we lost to the Wachusett Reservoir.
West Boylston has become known for the Old Stone Church: a steely remnant of the flooded town, an entry on the National Register of Historic Places, a frequent attraction for visitors from around Worcester County.
The First Baptist Church, the predecessor of the Old Stone Church, shown on the right was the second house of worship for the Baptist Society in West Boylston, dedicated on December 6, 1832.
But, of course, the Old Stone Church is not the only church in West Boylston's history.
The First Baptist Church, the predecessor of the Old Stone Church, shown on the far left was the second house of worship for the Baptist Society in West Boylston, dedicated on December 6, 1832. This church and its neighboring Catholic Church (near right), were destroyed by a fire on May 2, 1890.
The present Old Stone Church (First Baptist Church) was built on the same site and was scheduled for dedication on March 17, 1892, but a fire again badly damaged the interior of the church and the dedication was postponed until May 19, 1892.
The image on the right is of the First Congregational Church known as the Brick Church built in 1832. At the far left of the image is Thomas Hall, named for Town benefactor, Robert B. Thomas the founder of the Old Farmer's Almanac. Town meetings were held in this building from the 1840's to1900. Thomas Hall was also the location of the first high school. To the rear of Thomas Hall are the carriage barns for both the church and the hall. This church stood on the corner of Howe and East Main Streets near Thomas Hall.
The First Liberal Congregational Church, pictured on the left, stood at the corner of Central and Worcester Streets beside Thomas Hall, the town's former town hall, down in the valley. This church was dismantled during the construction of the reservoir.
Pictured on the right is St. Anthony's Catholic Church adjacent to the Old Stone Church. The church and the rectory were located on the northern side of East Main Street. The rectory was relocated during the construction of the Wachusett Reservoir to 29 Central Street.
If you look close enough in this picture, you can see the St. Anthony's steeple looming above the trees, and the Old Stone Church sitting in front of it at the edge of the hill.
The final image depicts a building which still stands, the Baptist Church on Church Street. This church houses the stained glass windows and numerous furnishings from the Old Stone Church. The building now serves as the town's Masonic Lodge.