For 142 years, the historic First Congregational Church of Waverly stood as a marker for a community, its white, clapboard steeple a beacon for the people who formed and then flurished in Belmont's Waverley Square over the next century.
It took less than two hours to reduce it into a heap of wood and dust.
"Sadness and disbelief from all that came by," according to Bet Lee of Grant Avenue who took numerous photos of the demolition.
"People are in shock. The demo crew was asked if they would save the cross for the Belmont Historical Society. They said that it would be destroyed but, a neighbor saw one of them put it into the truck once the tower came down," said Lee.
The demolition on Monday, Jan. 28, of the oldest church structure in Belmont, constructed in 1871 as the first communial building in the newly-established Waverley Village, was not unexpected.
In the weeks since the building was sold to Weston husband and wife Edward and April Hovsepian – Mr. Hovsepian is the owner of E.H. Construction Co., Inc. of Watertown – for $1.3 million, the final congregation purged the building of religious items, the doors and windows sold to a salvage company and the owners took out a demolition permit.
Just before the snow began to fall, a large hydraulic excavator rolled onto the site and began tearing away at the sancuary, the back of the building and then the steeple, which fell onto its side.
The rubble was watered down as large trailers came in to haul the pieces of Belmont's history to a landfill.
Under the town's zoning bylaw, the church's 34,000 square-foot lot will allow "as of right" the development of four house parcels which will allow two units on each lot, said Jeffrey Wheeler, the town's planning coordinator.
But due to town space requirements from front and back yards, it is more likely that a developer would need to reduce their plans to three or two structures of two townhouse units.