Active in the organization of Mystic Side was Hebert Porter, who, at the time, was a member of First Church of Malden, Congregational. Mr. Porter, with delegates from his own church and the First Church of Everett, met on March 7, 1889, to consider the advisability of starting a Congregational Sunday School in Mystic Side, an area annexed by Malden in 1723, but included in the boundaries of Everett when that area became an independent city in 1892. (Originally the land north of Charlestown beginning where the Mystic Generating Station in Everett now stands all the way to the Mystic River, was known as Mystickside.)
Mr. Porter and James Morey walked the streets of the area, counting houses and families and making observations with the idea of starting a Sunday School. When it was learned that a grocery store at the corner of Main and Peck Streets (now Woodville) was vacant, the decision was made and on Sunday, March 31, 1889, the store was hired for $18 per month, and was fitted and furnished and cleaned and ready for occupancy. There were 80 present on that first Sunday morning.
The records of the first annual meeting of the Mystic Side Union contain this report by Mr. Porter: “It is a pleasant sight, our Sunday School, as it now appears during its sessions. In the early days, our superintendent directed the school from the platform, having a chair for his especial use, likewise being favored with a table on which he could place his books and papers, convenient to his hand; but as time wore on, and newcomers appeared, he was gradually reduced to the ranks. First, his table was given to the librarian, then the platform was made over to a class of little ones, and one Sunday, unable to solve the problem of how to seat 149 people in 145 seats, he surrendered his chair. He now conducts the exercises standing nearly in the center of the room, literally surrounded by teachers and scholars.”
The Church School grew steadily and conditions became more and more crowded, so that on September 4, 1889, the Mystic Side Union voted to purchase from E. S. Converse a lot of land at the corner of Main Street and Wyllis Avenue. The lot was 142 by 236 1/2 feet, and was purchased for 10 cents per square foot, about half its real market value.
On June 8, 1892, the members of the Mystic Side Congregational Union met to consider and take action upon plans and estimates for a chapel. For over two hours the talk was animated over the question as to whether or not the chapel should be built. Plans drawn by Hartwell & Richardson, well know Boston Architects, were shown and it was plain that an expense of $9,000 or $9,500 would be incurred with a large mortgage put on the property.
There were twelve present at the meeting: ten voted to build and two did not vote, and so the Mystic Side Congregational Church began with ten people.
By July 23, 1892, the corner stakes were placed locating the groundbreaking area. In August, men were at work on the cellar, on September 8, the room numbers were up, and on September 20 the cornerstone was laid.
On September 23, workmen began putting on the clapboard, on October 15 the chapel was ready for lathing, on November 4 the workmen built the first fires inside the building, on November 29 the first furnace was set up and on December 4 the carpenters were at work putting on the inside finish.
Less than nine months from the day the ten men voted to build on February 23, 1893, the building was completed and the Mystic Side Congregational Church officially began.
When the new edifice was built, the furniture from the Woodville store was moved into the church and used for ten years. A trap door from the sanctuary to the vestry allowed the furniture to be lowered from one place to the other when activities called for seats in either area.
In the early days of the church, the Ladies’ Aid Society was formed and served as an active and important part of the church until 1952. Many of the beautiful quilts sewn by this group are treasures today, and the ladies installed the pews of the church and purchased the first stained glass window.
Due to everyone’s efforts, and with great joy, the mortgage was framed on October 5, 1908, just sixteen years after the church was built – a short time for a few people to reduce a $9,000 debt.
The church received help from other congregations, particularly the First Church of Everett, the First Church of Malden, and the Old South Society of Boston.
The official Mystic Side Congregational Church opened with seventeen members transferring from First Congregational Church of Malden, sixteen members transferring from the First Congregational Church of Everett, twenty-two members transferring from other churches, and fifteen members on Confession of Faith.
For over 100 years, this church has played a major role in the religious history of both Everett and Malden. Old Timers will remember many of its groups: The Cadets, The Knights of King Arthur, Christian Endeavor, The Ladies’ Aid, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Argedy Forum, The Debs, The Progressive Club, the Guild, The Wednesday Evening Club, The Odds and Ends, etc.
In the one hundred plus years since the laying of the cornerstone, Mystic Side Congregational Church has itself been the cornerstone of an untold number of lives. The original prayer of the church, though the vocabulary reflects the time in which it was written, is still appropriate today:
“Father of all mankind, we pray that to this church all Thy children will ever be welcome. Hither may the little ones love to come, and young men and maidens, to be strengthened for the battle of life. Here, may the strong renew their strength, and win for their lives a noble consecration, and hither may age turn its footsteps to find the rest of God and light at eventide. Here may the poor and needy find friends. Here may the tempted find succor, the sorrowing find comfort, and the bereaved learn that over their beloved death has no more dominion. Here may they who fear be encouraged, and they who doubt have their better hope and trust confirmed. Here may the careless be awakened to a sense of their folly and guilt, and to timely repentance. Here may oppressed and striving souls be assured of the mercy that triumphs over sin, and help to go on their way rejoicing through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.