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.
When you visit the Old Stone Church, you might see some rocks poking through the grass and goose droppings. Chances are, these aren’t just rocks—they’re stones from the foundations of long-gone buildings. The stones in these pictures are likely from St. Anthony’s Church which stood directly next to the Old Stone Church. The structure was torn down in the early 1900s, but the congregation now meets at Our Lady of Good Counsel in the center of town. And these foundation stones aren't the only ones you can see in the area surrounding the Church. History is everywhere!
The Old Stone Church is West Boylston’s most famous landmark. Built just a few years before the construction of the reservoir, the Church remained as a relic of the washed away town. You can see the church on the far right in this photo nestled between St. Anthony’s Church and a house across the street. If you visit the Old Stone Church today, you can still see where the road once was. The road ends at the water's edge.
You can also see the foundations of houses if you visit the site today—stones lined up in the grass. The houses and the other church which once stood on these foundations have either been moved or are now entirely demolished.
The next time you take a walk around the Old Stone Church, keep an eye out for those foundation stones, and try to picture the buildings that stood there over 100 years ago.