Hello from historic Easton! The cold temperatures in the last few days remind me of something I read in an old Easton newspaper a few years ago. The little quip stated something along the lines that all the school kids would get up and check their thermometers each winter morning. A reading of zero meant no school! School was not canceled because it was too cold to walk. It was canceled because the old coal furnaces could not heat the buildings in such cold temperatures!
Continuing our series on churches in Easton, today I share a few photos from the cornerstone laying and construction of the Immaculate Conception Church on Main Street. This building was the third erected for the fast-growing Catholic population in town, the first being the original chapel on Pond Street, which was followed by the wood church on Main Street later known as St. Mary's Hall. With a mortgage of $15,000 secured from North Easton Savings Bank, work began on the new building. On July 4th, 1902, a cornerstone laying ceremony took place. By that time, some of the church was under construction and pews and chairs could be set up on the floor so people could gather. Father James Looby led the ceremony which was attended by the Bishop of Providence, Most Reverend Matthew Harkins. The Bishop would return to attend the formal dedication of the building on April 19, 1904.
The photos shown here include one from the cornerstone ceremony, and the Bishop can be seen seated on the altar platform to the right of the speaker, Father Looby. A large crowd has gathered for this open air event, dressed in summer finery and many of the ladies wore hats to keep the hot summer sun from beating down on them. Flags and buntings are placed throughout for the 4th of July. You can see the window frames erected and held in place with wood braces and some steel cables. In the center is the platform, site of the altar, where the honored guests are seated.
The second photo is a nice image of the front door in place. A few interested people are checking out the progress being made, and it must have been very exciting to see the church erected. Did you know that the stone for the foundation and much of the church was quarried on site? Parishioner and stone mason Cornelius Dailey, Sr. directed that work. Both of these images are from glass negatives. Photos such as these give us some insight into construction techniques in use at the turn of the last century.
I hope you all have a good week, stay well, and hopefully warm too!
Anne Wooster Drury