First Baptist Church including its Elmwood Neighborhood
- Private GROUP TOUR (COSTS) is one hour long for this First Baptist Church (Campus and Neighborhood) walking tour. It is fully outdoors. Also a one hour indoor presentation can be given.
- A free public tour comes up every five years.
- A self-tour is available for anyone using the maps and text seen below. – LOCATION
stop A – Elmwood Neighborhood
There are also many important homes in the Elmwood area. One is the Prosper Hitchcock home one house south of the SW corner of Westfield Road and Northampton Street. The home was then owned by his son Dexter Hitchcock who became a state senator. Another is the Lawson Long home just south of the Blessed Sacrament rectory along Northampton Street. The home is the oldest home left in Elmwood and is from the 1820s. He and his son also named Lawson were the preeminent physicians in Holyoke.
Messier Funeral Home is the former home of Donald MacKintosh. His family lived here from 1875 to 1945. His mills made men’s suits.
Across the street from the Metcalf School is a store-based building. In the 1940 it housed the Elmwood Drug and Elmwood Market. There was also a flower shop. In the 1920s it houses a candy shop and a grocer.
The Elmwood section of Holyoke is the oldest section of the city. Still as far as Catholics are concerned it could be called the youngest.
Elmwood Park used to be its northern and eastern border but the park is gone.
stop B – Baptist Church Parsonage
In 1879 the parsonage was moved and the Baptist Church was torn down.
By 1880 there was a new brick faced Baptist Church and a new parsonage across South Street. These would serve the congregation well. The church is still there. (The church was enlarged in 1906 and you can still make out that work.
A third parsonage was built behind the church on the same side of South Street. No good church would be complete without a school and the same with the Baptists. It first minister organized the Rand Seminary on Homestead Avenue along his own home. In 1846 the academy was moved to the NW corner of Northampton Road and Westfield Road where the Blessed Sacrament Parish would be. It was disbanded in 1872. (It has also been called Gamwell Academy.)
stop C – First Baptist Church of Holyoke
The first religious buildings and the first religious organizations of Holyoke were in the Elmwood section of Holyoke. The Third Parish of Springfield was the northern parish and this would become Holyoke in 1848. This area needed a meeting house for its religious needs. This was built in 1792 at the corner of Gilmore Street and Northampton Road.
Both the Baptists and the Congregationalists used the building together. In 1799 the Congregationalists started their formal organization. In 1803 the Baptists started theirs under the name Second Baptist Church of West Springfield. In 1811 the meeting house was moved to where the Metcalf School is now and was also finished off inside with pews.
Finally, in 1826 the First Baptist Church built a wooden church of their own at the corner where it is now located. The following year the Baptist parsonage was built at the SE corner of the same location. The Congregationalists would also eventually leave the Meeting House in 1836 moving to the village of Ireland Parish.
stop D – Elmwood Cemetery
It lies along the old Elmwood Cemetery. Its former names were Third Parish Burial Ground and Baptist Village Cemetery. Its first burials were in 1755 which might be the year that it started since there were only a few settlers in the area by then.