Our Church Was Built In 1889
From a newspaper article the in the week before the building dedication on December 3, 1889
The new church of the Universalist society at Monson is situated on the corner of Main and Lincoln streets, and covers an area of 4800 feet on the ground. The exterior is of Monson granite in two shades of stone, so arranged as to have a very pleasing effect to the eye, and a part of the gables are finished in wood with fancy-cut shingles to give it effect. The roof is of the best Brownvllle, Me., slate, and the cresting is of an approved ornamental work in copper. The spire at the southeast corner is of stone to the height of 40 feet, mounted with a wood spire, slated, 50 feet in height. The top of this spire is made of copper, the last twelve feet partly in the form of a cross, and is richly gilded in gold. The bell deck is enclosed in a heavy circular railing to the height of 2 1/2 feet, and from this rise eight corner columns with richly carved capitols that support the circular openings and gables above, and also the spire.
The entrance on Main street is through a broad porch, with richly carved columns and stone baluster on each side, into the main tower or Main street vestibule. Out of this there is a staircase to the bell deck, and a large closet for the janitor’s use. Double fly doors open into the audience room directly at the head of the main aisle, with one single door at the head of side aisle, and as the entrance on Lincoln street is in conformity in every respect, there is no chance for a crowd to experience any trouble in entering or leaving the audience room. Directly behind the audience room is the lecture room, or vestry, capable of seating 200 people, with large parlor attached at the south end.
On the north end there is a stage for evening entertainments, and a Sunday-school library on an entirely new plan by the architect. Abroad stairway leads from the Lincoln street entrance and vestibule to the second story of the rear part and directly over the vestry, where the social rooms for the society are situated. Here is a fine dining hall 30 feet long and 25 feet wide, finished in the best of manner with maple floors, stained glass windows, and finely decorated, being one of the best rooms for the purpose it was designed for in this part of the state. Directly south of this, with large double sliding doors between, is the ladies’ parlor, which can also be entered from the main hall. This is fitted with a fire-place, oak mantle, stained glass windows, closets, and is heated by the furnace from below. It is finely decorated in oil, and has all modern improvements.
At the north end of dining hall is the kitchen or work room, fitted with sink, cupboards, and all that is necessary in a well-appointed kitchen. From this there is communication to the hall, stairway and numerous closets, the stairway leading down cellar and into the vestry, and to the outside door on the north side of the building. In the audience-room there are sittings for about three hundred, and the partition between the vestry and audience room consists of large glass doors nine feet high, hung with weights so that they can be run up and the vestry and audience-room thrown into one with seating capacity for about five hundred persons, all within hearing distance of the speaker. The seats are on a circle, so that all are very desirable. The speaker’s stand is on the north side, directly in front of the organ, while the choir is at his right on the same level. The audience room is rich in decorations, wood carvings, etc. The ceiling is what is known as hopper-shaped, with arches cut in it over openings and windows, and is cut into panels by carved and moulded beams running at right angles with each other and resting on columns and brackets against the wall, with a cornice at the angle and an architrave at the bottom of the freeze which is done in rich blue work in rough cast, with bronzed ornaments, and has a rich effect.
All the standing woodwork through the building except the stairs and mantles is done in whitewood, finished with three coats of varnish. The seats were made by the Globe Furniture Co. of Northville, Mich., and are of a very pretty pattern of oak, the case of the organ being of the same. The large cathedral glass window in front compares favorably with all its surroundings and together with the other windows shows remarkable taste and skill in the manufacture and decoration, an entirely new departure in that line being all done in rich colors in rough cast or form, with the free use of gilt, all combining to make the church and rooms look warm and rich, at the same time giving it a strong and durable feature.
The plans for the building were drawn by M. M. Francis of Fitchburg, who has had a large experience in church architecture. The contracts were let a little more than one year ago, the W. N. Flynt Granite Co. doing the stone work and P. B. Johnson the wood work. It has not been completed in as short a time as many such buildings are, the parties connected wlth it believing that it is better to take more time and let all settling and shrinking have its chance–as it will take it sooner or later–and then to flush and save all cracking and settling. The slating was done by A. H. Ryan of Holyoke; the decorating by Fox & Whetmore of Hartford; the cathedral windows were put in by Wolfe Brothers of New York; the organ, a two-bank instrument, was built and put in by S. S. Hammel of Cambridge. Gas for lighting is made on the premises by a machine put in by Gilbert Barker of Springfield, the fixtures being furnished by Bradley & Hubbard of Meriden, Ct. The carpets were furnished by Meekins & Packard of Springfield, and the furnaces by H. P. Witherell of Monson. The contract price was about $20,000, but alterations and additions have made it cost fully if not more than $25,000. Of course no good idea of the interior of the building can be had from a description, it must be seen to be appreciated, but competent judges affirm it to be the finest, most compact and most convenient church of its size in Western Massachusetts, if not in the state.