The Building of our Meetinghouse in 1815

“The House Was Thronged”

It took only a few months for the men of East Sudbury – now Wayland – to build our Meetinghouse. They were skilled laborers and the building they created was both beautiful and sturdy.

This account from the First Parish Archives, written by Betty Sweitzer in 1990, describes the building’s beginning:

“On June 1, 1814, the able-bodied men of East Sudbury gathered to raise the frame of the fifth Meetinghouse on a sloping pasture overlooking the village. While the timbers were drawn up by the yokes of oxen, and the rafters were joined and pinned by the townsmen, the women set tables nearby with a feast fit for the great occasion. Most of the materials and labor were provided by the townsmen, for the Parish was an incorporate part of the town.

Part of the town ownership of the Meetinghouse was transferred to owners of pews which were auctioned off to pay building expenses. The plans were drawn by Andrews Palmer of Newburyport, and the bell was cast by Paul Revere and Son. The Chairman of the building committee was General Micah Rutter, whose ancestor, John Rutter, built the first Meetinghouse for Sudbury 172 years earlier.

The new Meetinghouse was finished by fall. It was the first building in the town to be used solely for religious purposes, and the first to seat men and women together and have family pews. Carriage sheds, elm trees, heat, and an organ were added during the next 15 years. At the dedication ceremonies in January 1815, a new minister, John Burt Wight, was ordained, and ‘though it was a cold winter day, the House was thronged’ with proud and pleased East Sudburyites and their guests.”