Lower Falls Village in Newton, Massachusetts was first settled in the early 18th century by colonists due to the area’s natural waterfalls and rapids which was perfect for early industry. By the early 19th century, up to four paper mills lined the Charles River here at a dam which provided power and steady water supply for their facilities. The village saw a large population increase from that point until the end of the 19th century when larger mills in the state were built. One of the major community spaces for the growing village was it’s main church, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, which is the oldest extant church in Newton and the first Episcopal church built immediately west of Boston. The cornerstone for the building was laid in September 1813 containing a package of coins and a silver plate. Previously services had been held in the Lower Falls schoolhouse, with the first Episcopal service held in 1811. The land for the church was donated by Samuel Brown a wealthy Boston merchant who invested in the paper mills in Lower Falls. Many of the founding members and parishioners were in the paper making business in Lower Falls and buried in the adjacent cemetery. The Federal style church was altered in 1838 and given Gothic detailing, including lancet windows and finials at the steeple. In 1954, the bell tower was altered with the gothic finials replaced with the current urns on the balustrade, the gothic arched openings were changed to the current arched shape, and entablature, pilasters, and a cross were added.
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