First Spiritual Temple/Exeter Street Theater - Boston, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 21.027 W 071° 04.768
19T E 328728 N 4690781
Quick Description: The great stone building at the corner of Newbury and Exeter Streets was originally built for and occupied by the First Spiritual Temple, which may have been the location of an image of the spirit of a girl then by the Exeter Street Theater.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 9/27/2011 5:03:09 PM
Waymark Code: WMCP62
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member saopaulo1
Views: 5

Long Description:
In Boston's Back Bay section, at the corner of Exeter and Newbury Streets, there is a massive brown stone building, with a restaurant on one side, and a large entrance on the other side. This large building, now occupied by a restaurant and a montessori school, was originally built for the First Spiritual Temple.

The waymark isn't about the church, specifically, but practices and studies about the possible bounds between the physical and spiritual are always intriguing, and there is a well-known photograph to prove the existence of the spiritual beyond that, if it wasn't taken at the temple itself, it was associated with a member of this congregation.

The building appearance adds to the mystery, in fact, like other Richardsonian Romanesque type buildings, it commands your attention. The building is generally cubic in shape, with a peaked roof and dormers, and a conical spire. Three tall, multi-story windows, are on the Newbury Street side, and smaller windows are spattered elsewhere. The corners are rounded and at time extend to little spinarets.

The building was built from the funds of Marcellus Seth Ayer, the founder of the First Spiritual Temple, in 1885, the first temple in the world dedicated to religious spiritualism. In short, Ayer felt that spiritualism was the 'missing link' to arriving at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, he was deeply saddened at how spritualism practices were evolving. One night, at a seance and discussion, several dead relatives of his appeared before him and told him that it time for him to give back what God had bestowed on him. So, he established a church devoted to discovering the noble truths of Spiritualism.

The church was active and growing through 1910, but outside resentment had an impact on the church. In 1914, the church allowed the Exeter Street Theater to share the building and modifications were made for the theater to operate on one floor and the church below. By 1975, the congregation moved out of the building and to another building in nearby Brookline. At the time of writing, the congregation was in the process of selling this building and moving elsewhere. The theater lasted until about 1984 (1974 by some accounts). Later a furniture store occupied the building and a bookstore and restaurant, before it was redone to become a Montessori school.

Getting back to spiritualism, I have not uncovered a lot about the specific practices in the church, especially regarding spiritualism. According to the First Spiritual Temple (FST) Web Site, a central thought to the congregation is the "New Dispensation in Spiritualism," which, generally, urges people around the world to open up communication "from Spirit to Humanity...for change." The religion also was urged early on to move away from mediums and psychics and concentrate on the implications of attaining this communication - Spiritual rather than spirit communication. Services/lectures seemed to be given in 'trance discourses.'

The church did have mediums associated with it, however. One of the most famous mediums was Mrs. E. R. Dyer. The link here to a pictoral history page, where, halfway down, shows Mrs. Dyer with a white silohette of a child, known as Christal, and a star above. This picture is shown as proof that interaction with spirits is possible. The site did not mention that this picture was taken within the church, but there evidence that suggests it did, due to the activeness of Mrs. Dyer within the church, and the fact that a memorial was made in her memory and was in the temple before being moved and placed in the present structure.

Link to the page: (visit link)

The Exeter Street Theater was well known, and well attended for many years, and people from the church were employed there. It was very selective in the movies it showed, at first. Towards the end of its existence, it was known for showing the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" to college crowds.

A Wikipedia article stated that the place is haunted, and that the place became 'unhinged' in 1984 at the vacating of the building. The state further stated, "Whether or not one believes in ghosts, the fact that the building and its ensuing tenants have met with a string of disastrous blows since the demolition of the old hall, cannot be disputed." Unfortunately, the article did not state any more, and I have not found any more on the Internet. I do wonder what the present tenants, the Kingsley Montesorri School thinks of having possible spiritual attendees - perhaps even Christal herself!
Type: Unexplained Phenomena

Referenced in (list books, websites and other media):
Wikipedia (Newbury Street):

Website Reference: [Web Link]

Additional Coordinates: Not Listed

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Chasing Blue Sky visited First Spiritual Temple/Exeter Street Theater - Boston, MA 8/22/2012 Chasing Blue Sky visited it
Chasing Blue Sky visited First Spiritual Temple/Exeter Street Theater - Boston, MA 8/22/2012 Chasing Blue Sky visited it

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