White Church, West Springfield, Mass

The old White Church in West Springfield, around 1905. Photo from Springfield: Present and Prospective (1905).

West Springfield

The church in 2014:

445_2014

The old church at the corner of Elm Street and Kings Highway in West Springfield is one of the oldest surviving church buildings in the Pioneer Valley.  It was built in 1802, making it 17 years older than Springfield’s Old First Church.  It’s in a rather odd location, though; it’s on the outskirts of downtown West Springfield, on a hill overlooking the Connecticut River.  This was due to an agreement that the town made with John Ashley, who paid for the construction under the conditions that: 1) he choose the location, and 2) that it remain in use as a church for 100 years.  He got his wish, but almost as soon as the 100 years was up the congregation merged with Park Street Congregational Church, moving to the center of West Springfield in 1909 and vacating the building.  The building was later used as a Masonic lodge, and today it is privately owned.  One curious historical item is the cost of the church; the contract called for $1,400 plus “ten gallons of St. Croix rum.”  Based on the fact that the church is still standing over 200 years later, I think one can assume the rum was not delivered until after it was completed.

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