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Photo Gallery: Historic Waverley Square Church Reduced to Rubble

After 142 years, a legacy of Waverley Square's birth is gone in a day.

For 142 years, the historic First Congregational Church of Waverly stood as a marker for a community, its white, clapboard steeple a beacon for the people who formed and then flurished in Belmont's Waverley Square over the next century.

It took less than two hours to reduce it into a heap of wood and dust. 

"Sadness and disbelief from all that came by," according to Bet Lee of Grant Avenue who took numerous photos of the demolition.

"People are in shock. The demo crew was asked if they would save the cross for the Belmont Historical Society. They said that it would be destroyed but, a neighbor saw one of them put it into the truck once the tower came down," said Lee.

The demolition on Monday, Jan. 28, of the oldest church structure in Belmont, constructed in 1871 as the first communial building in the newly-established Waverley Village, was not unexpected.

In the weeks since the building was sold to Weston husband and wife Edward and April Hovsepian – Mr. Hovsepian is the owner of E.H. Construction Co., Inc. of Watertown – for $1.3 million, the final congregation purged the building of religious items, the doors and windows sold to a salvage company and the owners took out a demolition permit. 

Just before the snow began to fall, a large hydraulic excavator rolled onto the site and began tearing away at the sancuary, the back of the building and then the steeple, which fell onto its side. 

The rubble was watered down as large trailers came in to haul the pieces of Belmont's history to a landfill.

Under the town's zoning bylaw, the church's 34,000 square-foot lot will allow "as of right" the development of four house parcels which will allow two units on each lot, said Jeffrey Wheeler, the town's planning coordinator.

But due to town space requirements from front and back yards, it is more likely that a developer would need to reduce their plans to three or two structures of two townhouse units.

b lowengard January 29, 2013 at 05:41 PM
This is what Belmont has become- Letting developers bulldoze the town. Meanwhile, there's another church on RT 2 that is so ostentatious it's obscene. What is wrong with this town? Might as well build a highway over the Waverley trail.
Marie Daly February 01, 2013 at 01:30 AM
It's sad when a community icon is lost. The sellers should have considered more options.The Waverley Square church was an historic building that could have been repurposed and renovated. I think the Catholic church handled the closure of Our Lady of Mercy church with more sensitivity. The residences at Our Lady's fit well with the community around it.
S A February 03, 2013 at 06:56 PM
b lowengard - Your opinion is important and respected, but it is disappointing when one makes a statement without supporting detail, such as your claim that the church on RT 2 is ostentatious and obscene. I assume you're referring to the Mormon temple. How exactly is that ostentatious and obscene? As a Belmont citizen who is not Mormon but lives in the temple's neighborhood, my opinion is that the church is pleasingly elegant. It's architecture -- conservative and modest with a single steeple -- is well suited to the New England style. Also, as the Mormon temple has been here for over a decade, I don't see how the Mormon temple has anything to do with the Waverly Square Church's demolition. S. A.
Dave Wynn February 07, 2013 at 03:10 AM
I'll miss this anchor of my youth, the memories of those passed and times of spirited community within those simple white walls.
Rick Sacca February 20, 2013 at 06:19 PM
sad to see a milestone of my youth go away in this manner. Any other Pilgrim Fellowship members out there? Hit me up on FB. Rick Sacca

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