Old North Church
The North Wilmot Church was built in 1829 when the five denominations, Congregational, Christian Baptist, Universal, Freewill Baptist and Methodist, united in its construction. Each held services on allotted Sundays, one having services only on the fifth Sunday of any month having five Sundays. The church was called North Union Meeting House at the time.
The building was originally erected on what is now known as Tewksbury Hill on the west side of the town highway. South of the building was one of Wilmot’s muster fields. South of the muster fields is presently known as Tewksbury Cemetery. The building was built by Josiah Stearns and originally had box pews.
The congregation came from the most northerly part of town known as the Clay neighborhood, from the eastern part of Springfield known as Fowler Town and from the closer White and Trussel neighborhoods. The North Wilmot Union Meeting House Society was organized by the proprietors (pew holders) on November 24, 1849. The pews were assessed by the society and taxes collected to help finance the church. Pew 4 was owned by Stephen Tewksbury (David’s uncle) and pew 11 was owned by the Lois Langley family (Mary’s mother) and Mary is listed as one of the owners. Daniel Laine, the person who sold Windhaven to David owned pew 26.
The congregation soon found out they had picked a cold, windy site for their church and one that was hard to drive to in the wintertime. After many complaints and inconveniences to all, the church building was moved in 1850 to its present location near the old schoolhouse in District No. 10 at the four corners. It is said it was moved on rollers with 30 to 35 yoke of oxen using sledges filled with rocks fastened on behind to act as a brake so the building would not go down the hill too fast. The path taken was by way of Pommeria’s field which was not as steep as the road and then across the brook where the banks are low. The moving operation cost $386.90.
By 1867 the Christian Baptists and Universalists had apparently faded from the picture. It was stipulated that a congregation had to have an ordained minister to be assigned a Sunday for services. Sundays rotated between the Congregational, Free Will Baptist and Methodist congregations.
Extensive changes were made to the interior of the church building when Mrs. Ed Kimball became interested in using the building as a civic or community center as well as for worship services. The pews were removed and movable seats substituted. The choir loft was removed. A furnace was installed in the basement as well as a kitchen.