Wakefield's First Baptist Church
Wakefield's First Baptist Church has a long and proud history. Unfortunately, the 1872 Italianate building, long a prominent landmark in the town skyline and in downtown, was struck by lightning as a storm swept through the area the evening of Tuesday, October 23, 2018. The steeple caught fire, and the rest of the building was soon engulfed in flames. Despite the efforts of Wakefield's Fire Department, assisted by firefighters from many area communities, the building was largely destroyed and declared a total loss. Click the link to the right for more photos and details of the fire and its aftermath.
Brief Church History - "Organized in 1794 as the South Reading Branch of the Baptist Church of Woburn, and in 1798 as the Baptist Society in the First Parish, the First Baptist Church built its first meeting house on Salem Street in 1800. In 1820, the Meeting House was moved to a new location at the corner of Main and Crescent Streets. Fire destroyed the building in 1835, and a new, larger church was erected on the same site in 1837. The building was enlarged in 1853. On June 21, 1871, fire destroyed the second building, hastening the congregation's plans for a larger building. Ground was broken at the present site of the church on June 27, 1871 with the cornerstone laid on August 22nd. The building was completed and dedicated in December, 1872." -- From Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department calendar (June 1997) by Jayne M. D'Onofrio.
This book, originally published in 1901 but now digitized and online, covers the history of the Baptist Church from 1800-1900, including the building of the 1872 structure. The library also owns a paper copy of Highlights of the Past Fifty Years, which covers the church's history up to 1954.