Greetings from snowy Easton! The wintry weather that greeted us Friday morning will soon be a memory as spring rapidly approaches. Now, if only we could get baseball going and “spring” into spring training!
As the saying goes, home is where the heart is. A new home was an important part of the foundation of the Swedish Lutheran Church, and today’s photo introduced that spiritual home to Swedes living in town. As early as 1865 a Swedish population existed in North Easton, working in the Ames Shovel Shop and on the Ames estates. After settling in Easton (and elsewhere) they felt a need for a spiritual home to be established, one that honored their Lutheran faith (other Swedes followed the Congregational tradition.) Not many options existed in the immediate area, though a Pastor Hult of Brockton held services at homes in 1872. However, when he moved from Brockton, services ended. In 1890 a Lutheran baptism was held by Pastor C. T. Sandstrom, and through his networking and influence, Pastor A. J. Norlin came to Easton to begin preaching to the Lutherans. With the support of five other men, services were conducted in several locations in North Easton over the following years. In October, 1890, a group of 84 people founded the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Church Society. Money was an issue at first, and it took two years before the organization of the Society was completed on March 22, 1892.
Financial issues seemed to be resolved quite quickly. The congregation was able to purchase a lot of land on the corner of Williams Street and Jenny Lind Street by August, 1892, and within months, a building was completed and dedicated. In 1897 Pastor A. M. Benander was called as the first permanent minister to this congregation, serving until 1901. The photo today is a collage that celebrates a new home and a new Pastor. Three carefully chosen images introduce us to the various aspects of the church: the Pastor, the interior worship space, and the exterior of the building. A photo of the Pastor was important so people would recognize the leader of the congregation. A handsome building is featured with its trimmings, tall tower and spire, and a set of steps that seems to defy gravity! Steep does not begin to describe these steps, but the close proximity of the building to the street left no alternative. (I have heard stories about pallbearers struggling with their duties, trying to keep a casket level while traversing up or down those stairs. Bad weather days must have rendered that task nearly impossible!) The original interior of the building is featured to provide prospective worshipers a look at the altar and seating (notice that chairs are being used – pews would come a little later as a gift from Mrs. Frederick Lothrop Ames). The light coming from the three windows really brightens up the room. Facing due east to get the benefit of the morning sun added to the experience for worshippers. Notice the large gas lamp suspended from the ceiling that would provide light on dark days and evening services. Within a few years, a mural would be added in front of the center window, stenciling and words added to the walls, and a pipe organ would be installed.
The building served the congregation well for many years, until they removed to their present location on Lincoln Street on Christmas Eve, 1959. From 1960 until recently the building was the home of the Paul Dean Masonic Lodge, formerly located on the third floor of the Oakes Ames Memorial Hall. As far as stair climbing went, this must have been an upgrade!
Stay safe, and stay well,
Curator: Frank Meninno