The old meeting house for the First Congregational Church in Wilbraham, around the 1860s or 1870s. Image courtesy of the Wilbraham Public Library.
The site of the church in 2015:
There aren’t too many photos of the church in the first scene, in part because of the building’s short lifespan. It was built in 1857 to replace Wilbraham’s original First Congregational Church, which had been built in 1748 on Wigwam Hill, near the corner of present-day Tinkham Road and Bolles Road. Given its rather inconvenient location, though, the building was brought down the hill and into the center of town in 1794. It stood here until 1857, when it was moved again and converted into stables near the new church. The new building would’ve been the home church for many of of Wilbraham’s 228 men who served in the Civil War, and the first photo was probably taken during or soon after the war. However, both the old and the new churches were destroyed in a fire in 1877, and a new building was built on the site; this also burned down, after being struck by lightning in 1911. Today, Gazebo Park is located on the spot where a total of four generations of Wilbraham churches once stood, from 1794 to 1958.