Halloween History Mystery – October 2014

October 14, 2014 – Question

On the Halloween evening of October 31, 1900 the bell of the Wellesley Congregational Church, also known as the Village Church, began to toll without a soul in sight!  Deacons, policemen and residents rushed to the scene but found the church in darkness and no one pulling the rope to the bell; however, the bell continued to toll through the evening!  Any ideas on how this spooky mystery was solved?  Return on Oct. 31st to learn the answer to this Halloween History Mystery!

October 31, 2014 – Answer

Walter Lovewell admitted to this ingenious prank 50 years later to the staff of the Wellesley Townsman.  According to a resulting article, “Lovewell, . . . together with Jack Rothery and Wee Stanwood, had stretched a thin piano wire from the clapper of the bell to the house in which the Stanwoods lived, on the present site of the Morton Block, and, sitting in an upstairs room, the boys had pulled on the invisible piano wire at regular intervals to sound the bell and confuse the townspeople” (50 Year Old Mystery is Finally Solved, Townsman, Oct. 19th, 1950).  The Wellesley Village Church is located in the heart of Wellesley Square at the corner of Washington and Central Street and the boys had a short walk across the street to Wee Stanwood’s house, located at the corner of Washington and Grove St.  As the Townsman article mentions, this area is now the Morton Block which houses Anderson’s Jewelers and other retail stores.

Don’t recognize the image of the Wellesley Congregational Church pictured
above?  This wooden building was built in 1872 and destroyed by fire in 1916.  The brick building you see today is actually the forth edifice of the Wellesley Congregational Church, commonly known as the Village Church, and was built c.1918-1923.  Two earlier structures were built in 1774-1798 and 1835.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator