Hello everyone! I hope this finds you well and off to a great start in the new year. We sadly had to cancel our planned open house, and as Covid cases continue to rise, we will see what happens in February. Easton saw its first significant snowfall of the winter yesterday, and temps here are going to drop into a high in the teens by Tuesday. I am already looking forward to spring!
Arielle Nathanson has been working through our collection of church records, and today's photo is one she recently scanned. It is a rare view of the interior of the "Old Square Top" Methodist Church on the northwest corner of Elm Street and Washington Street, across from the old Methodist burying ground on the opposite corner. Built around 1830, this was an upgrade from an earlier building built in 1795 and moved to Lincoln Street to make room for this building. I did say this was an upgrade, didn't I? Methodism reached its height in the area around this time, and over the succeeding years, a second Methodist church was added on Main Street. Old Square Top flourished for quite a while, drawing attendees from both Easton, Stoughton, and perhaps a few residents of North Bridgewater who lived near the Easton town line.
The interior shown here is a classic New England Protestant Church of an early period. The interior is sparse, with no decorative features visible. The altar at the extreme left in the photo features a handsomely detailed table / pulpit, which may have even been considered a bit extravagant. It may be a later addition, as the original pulpit probably was the same one used in the 1795 building and would be much simpler in style. Pews are narrow and straightforward, utilizing a utilitarian design that served their intended purpose. There are plenty of windows, which was an improvement over the first building. Unfortunately, there was no insulation and winter attendees spent hours at a time in very cold conditions. The pipes running overhead would have originated in a coal stove, the only means of heat available in the building. A sexton would have to arrive very early on a Sunday morning to get the fire started if any heat was to be felt. Things were so cold, infact, that one would be allowed to bring a dog to church in the winter so you could have it warm your feet! By the way you also "purchased" your seat by paying a pew tax. If you look at the pews on the left, you can see that each row is numbered so your pew could be "sold" to you. Pews near the front would be the most expensive, those in the rear the least expensive, and those on the sides somewhere in the middle of that. Seating in churches in those days was a direct reflection on your social status and success. By the late 1800's, this congregation had dwindled and joined other Methodist churches in the area, and the building was finally razed in 1898.
Until next week, stay well and stay warm,
Curator: Frank Meninno