21 Belmont St., Worcester.
Originally built to house the Swedish-Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, this church on was one of three on lower Belmont Street in Worcester.
It may have been fortunately placed, as its neighbor on Belmont Street suffered structurally from the vibrations of Interstate 290 below.
The Swedish-Finnish church's establishment was a reflection of Worcester's ethnic melting pot, fueled by industry and immigration. The city housed churches built by and for its French, Italian, Irish immigrant populations, and the many others who came (mostly from Europe) to work in Worcester's thriving industries.
They brought their religious traditions with them, but in true melting pot fashion, they eventually attracted other populations and subtly changed. The Swedish-Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church became Bethany Lutheran Church in the 1930s, and in the 1940s, it merged with Calvary Lutheran Church and Trinity Lutheran Church, and began to meet in the church at 43 Belmont St.
In the 1950s, the church at 21 Belmont St. was used by the Grange Hall, a brief interlude of non-church use that was followed by a brick renovation to the upper story in the 1960s, and use by the historic A.M.E. Zion Church, which remained in the building for many years.
It also served as home to a Spanish-speaking congregation for a period.
Most recently the church has been owned by the Chinese Gospel Church.
While its brick upper story is far more utilitarian than the Neo-Gothic revival style of the first floor, it has enabled the building to continue its original purpose as a place of worship for more than a hundred years.
-- Melissa McKeon