Greetings my fellow history lovers! The sun shining over Easton today tries its best to melt any remaining snow and ice, but with temps quite cold this weekend, I think I'll still be looking at a few snow piles on President's Day!
Our photo today is a very nice image of The Evangelical Congregational Church of Easton (TECCOE) taken in the first decade of the 1900's. We are looking east at the northeast corner of Depot and Center Streets. The church has an interesting history, with the congregation tracing its origins to colonial days. A division over doctrine in the 1830's led to a division, with a rival congregation using the old meeting house. A new meeting house was built in 1832. This was replaced by a second structure built in 1885, and is the building pictured below. Looking at the photo, you can see the original design and trims of the church building, its original windows, unique architectural features, and details in the choice of shingles. There are two spires on the building - the usual tall church spire, and along the roof, a smaller spire shaped structure to provide venting of heat from the attic and second floor, where the Sanctuary is located.
Fire has shaped the history of several buildings in Easton Centre over the years. Tall features are a magnet for lightning! The original spire in this building burned after being struck by lightning in the late 1950's or very early 1960's, and was replaced by a handsome, but lower, spire. The reason this building was built at all is because the original 1832 building also burned! Across the street, on the northwest corner of Depot and Center Streets, the former Meeting House / Town Hall building burned in 1885 and was replaced by a second Town Hall building in 1886. The cause of these other fires was probably lightning related. The spires on these buildings were taller than the surrounding trees, and would make a likely target for a lightning bolt. Add in a metal bell, and the target was complete. As you enjoy the photo below, you will note the Soldier's Monument, Easton to Mansfield Trolley car, plantings and landscaping, and directional signs.
As a final note, my dad for many years worked for Merchant's Burglar Alarm which was owned by Robert Hatchfield, and following his passing, his wife Shirley. One of the accounts the company had was this church. Following the burning of the spire around 1960 or so, heat and smoke detectors were installed throughout the church. Whenever there was a severe electrical storm, detectors in the spire would be set off, prompting calls for the firefighters as well as the alarm company. My father would routinely get a call to go and check the detectors in the church, which were sometimes damaged by an electrical surge, meaning that lightning struck the spire or flashed very close by. Usually these were close calls, but once in a while, there would be some smoldering picked up by the detectors.
Until next week, stay well, and Happy President's Day to all!
Anne Wooster Drury