First Spiritual Temple, Boston

Fort Wayne Weekly Gazette, December 26, 1895

Where Spirits Rule
The Great Spook Temple in Boston Town.

It Cost Mr. Ayer Not Less Than $300,000—An Earnest Believer in Modern Spiritualism—Do Styles Change Across the Jordan.

Boston Correspondence.

    Probably few collections of spirit pictures equal in interest and variety the one that adorns the walls of the First Spiritual Temple in Boston.  That city is really the Mecca of the spiritualistic faith.  In no other city are there so many mediums, such a multiplication of circles and congregations.  It is estimated that there are no less than twenty-five thousand people whose faith makes them readily accept the gospel it teaches.  The famous camp meetings at Onset Bay gather together the most distinguished spiritualists in the country once a year, and the fame of their manifestations and the effects of their enthusiasm live in New England long after the frost has driven the visiting pilgrims home.  The largest congregations are at the Spiritual Temple and at Berkeley Hall, where one thousand or fifteen hundred people meet every Sunday.  The more than twenty thousand remaining are left to gather at the rooms of various mediums in companies that range from fifty to several hundred.  Each medium has a strong personal following, and their “guides” or “controls” are considered quite like “one of the family.”

    The Temple, where I found the spirit picture, is the richest structure devoted to the faith in the world.  It cost $300,000, and every cent of that sum was paid by one man, Mr. Marcellus S. Ayer, who is still young, and who made his entire fortune by his own enterprise in the wholesale grocery busienss.  When a man who has learned the value of a dollar by earning it makes such a donation to a cause he is certainly sincere.  It was stipulated by the spiritual “guides” who inspired and directed the building of the Temple that no money should be taken inside its doors for the maintenance of the services.  It is a stone structure, of such excellent architecture that it graces the Back Bay neighborhood, where it stands, in sight of Trinity Church, the New Old South, the public library and the Art Museum.

    The medium through whom Mr. Ayer received his instructions was Mrs. E. R. Ayer, a memorial tablet of whom appears in the auditorium.  The suggestion came through some ancient “intelligences,” a spirit called Chrysi, and other “guides.”  Mediums say the psychical conditions of the Temple are unsurpassed anywhere in the world.

    The most interesting room is the library where the spirit pictures are shown.  They extend around all sides of the room, and with them are hung pictures of distinguished people who are claimed as spiritualistic disciples, and views of places and scenes made famous by supernatural manifestations.  Back of the reading desk is a life size portrait of Mrs. Ayer, sister-in-law of the founder of the Temple, whose spirit, Mr. Ayer says, directed him often in the work of building.

    Lincoln, whom the spiritualists claim as a believer in their ideas, has a place, and so has Thomas Paine, who “controls” many of the mediums in Boston.  There is a picture of the house in New York where the Fox sisters first heard the “rappings;” another of Saul consulting the Witch of Endor; a third of Joan of Arc receiving a spiritual commission; “The Last Moments of Weber,” and others.

    Among the ancient “intelligences” are Chine, a Chinese sage; Confucius, Arbaces, Adehi, Yermah, Hiram Abiff and others from the far East.

    The pictures of Chine and Confucius are especially striking.  Historians are, however, forced to make this criticism of their costumes:  They both appear in these spirit forms with the long black queue of the Mongolians of today.  Now the queue is a comparatively modern institution.  It came in with the present Tartar dynasty, a little over two hundred years ago, while Confucius lived more than twenty-four hundred years ago, or in the middle of the fifty century B. C., and Chine at a far earlier period.  The adoption of this style of wearing the hair was the badge of submission to the semi-barbaric Tartar conquerors.

    It is the opinion of some Japanese scholars who have visited the library that the picture of Chine, after whom it is claimed China was named, represents the great sage who founded spiritualism in the Celestial Empire, known in Eastern classics as Kwotei, to whom were attributed many mysterious powers.  He is said to have driven out his enemies in a chariot equipped with a compass needle.

    In the bookcase is an album containing fifty or more spirit photographs taken a score or more years ago.  The figures are astonishingly clear, the bright eyes of women and the dark beards of men looking out boldly from their nebulous investment of white.  Evidently good looks must be an invariable gift in the spirit world, for in all these photographs every woman was fair, every man handsome, and every child a cherub.  Considering that so many homely people die it is rather strange that their friends are able to recognize some of them under the flattering conditions of their reappearance.

    Among the photographs was Dr. Guffy, holding the hand of “Katie,” a spirit; Miss Houghton in a dozen or more vivid materializations.  When both she and Mrs. Guffy were present they were strong enough to bring a spirit before the camera entirely alone.  Another striking picture is that of Mr. Homer and the spirit face of his “double,” the features in each being almost identical.  The spirit of Mrs. Sherwood came out so clearly that it could be recognized, as did also that of Mr. Sutherland.  The mediums, Miss Katherine Smith and Mr. Arbuthnot, bring out faces very clearly.  Mrs. Adams and William Howeitt are photographed with the spirit faces of their daughters bending over them.  A spirit places a wreath on the head of Dr. Guffy in one photograph.  Mrs. John Burns brought out the only two spirit figures in the collection, which appear in a single field of the camera.

    To the writer Mr. Ayer said in an interview:

    “Another important portrait is that of ‘Chine,’ for whom China is said to have been named.  He lived 3,400 years ago and was renowned as a great medium and teacher of advanced thought.  As an objective worker Chine has few superiors, if, indeed, he has any, to the diffusion of knowledge on either the earth plane or in the spirit realm.

    “Confucius is another important personage in the rare collection.  The famous sage of China lived 2,400 years ago, and appears to the people at the present time in the same character in which he then existed.  Of the reliability of the portait of this great man, as in the case of all the rest, I am positive, as all have been clairvoyantly seen by those who believe in spirit phenomena.

    “In the same frame with Confucius is the portrait of Yerman, who has given me his history.  He lived on the continent of Tan, which was submerged in the Pacific ocean twenty-four thousand years ago.  Arbaces, the ruler of the Median empire, is also presented.  There is another of the ancient intelligences, who is a constant visitor at the temple, and who is said to have lived ten thousand years ago.  He is called ‘The temple spirit,’ and upon him we depend for much that is authentic in ancient and modern thought.  At last Sunday morning’s séance, at which Mr. P. L. O. A. Keeler was the medium, a message was passed over the cabinet curtain written in symbols.  The message was given to a clairvoyant, who was able to extract from it this translation: ‘In years passed, I have promised you much that would take place, and it will all, and more come true.’  The ancient spirit is an Egyptian.

    “It was in connection with an appearance of ‘The temple spirit’ that the faces of the Hindoo man and woman appeared.  Both were reincarnated at a later time—the man as an Egyptian, the woman as an Italian.  In the lower auditorium there is a full length spirit picture of White Cloud, the guide of Miss Katie Robinson, of Philadelphia, who died some years ago.  It was drawn by W. B. Anderson in a test séance, one agreeing to pay $1,500 for it if it could be executed.

    “The temple has been and is now the abode of many spirits who, when they were in their natural condition, were famous above their fellows.  At some of the materializations a medium has been able to draw an intelligence to her cbinet that could present the inner chamber of the great pyramid, a place never seen by human eye, as the present generation understand it.  Other wonderful things and events have been reproduced which fill even believers with astonishment.  Raiment worn by men who lived thousands of years ago have been presented at some of the séances, the antiquity and authenticity of which no man can reasonably dispute.”


[ Ephemera Home] [ Spiritualist Listings ]