History of the Building

In 1833, with a charter membership of 22, Norton’s Trinitarian Congregational Church had its humble beginnings in a meetinghouse built by Whittemore Peterson for $2400 on land sold by J. Jacob Shepard for $67.00 to Samuel Perry, Laban Wheaton, Jacob Shepard, Levit Bates, and Mason Stone in trust for the use of the Trinitarian Congregational Church. It was not until January 1, 1834 that the building was finished and ready to be dedicated.

From the church’s inception, Laban and Eliza Wheaton had a large part to play in its development. In 1834, Laban donated a large bell, which was not used until 1849 when the church steeple was built at a cost of $350. Eliza donated a large pipe organ to the church in 1851, the same organ that is in use today. In 1878, Eliza donated a small library building at Wheaton Seminary to be used as a chapel to provide a more pleasant place for religious meetings than the basement rooms currently being used. A committee of two (Deacon Blandin and George W. Wild) conferred with Mrs. Wheaton and decided to have the building moved from the Seminary to a position parallel with the Church and the dedication of this chapel was held on September 18, 1878.

In 1882, Mrs. Wheaton asked if she might make some changes in the church, chapel, and organ. She donated an additional piece of land for the love and affection of the church and had the entire church re-built at her own expense. Although it would have been easier to have demolished the original structure and build anew from the foundation, the main walls were left standing and the old bell was retained. Everything else was changed. The church was lengthened 10 feet at each end and with its new tower, spire, and new roof; it was virtually a new building. A vestibule was added, the steeple was moved, a four-dial Howard clock was added, and the chapel was moved to a connecting location. The old bell serviced the new tower and in addition to its former duties noted each passing hour, in connection with the four-dial Howard Clock. The organ was entirely rebuilt by E. L. Holbrook of East Medway. The ceiling consisted of three trusses, each of a tie beam, which makes the diameter of the ceiling curve, and three other beams used for the pulpit, minister’s seats, and communion table, the top of the latter being of St. Albans red marble. The windows were of rolled cathedral glass generally in light tints with bright borders, without decoration except the large window above the platform, which had a rich design. P. A. Butler of Boston decorated the walls and ceilings throughout both the church and the chapel in oil. The pews were fitted with patent elastic felt cushions with dark maroon damask made by Ostermoor and Son of New York. The upholstery of the pulpit and ministers’ seats were plush covering of a similar color. The decoration was rich in color though the treatment was very simple, ornamentation being very sparingly used. On November 6, 1882 the Trinitarian Congregational Church was opened and rededicated.

The church remained virtually the same for the next 80 years until church growth caused a need for Sunday school classroom space, a dining hall, and a pastor’s study. A huge addition was built at a cost of $130,000 in the 1960′s.

The last major change to the church was in 1985 when Hurricane Gloria hit and blew out the church’s large stain glass window. It was replaced with a three-panel window reflecting the church’s belief in the Trinity.

The church recently celebrated its 175th anniversary and with great pleasure, the Norton Historical Commission commended the dedication and hard work of the congregation at Trinitarian Congregational Church.