Howard House – St. Mary of the Angels Rectory // c.1867

Moving north from the Stonybrook section of Jamaica Plain, Boston, I explored around Roxbury, an area often overlooked by tourists, but has a lot of history and great buildings with rich stories! This old Victorian-era house was built around 1867 for Joseph W. Howard and his wife Lillie about the time of their wedding. The large Italianate style mansion was built in a period and location where wealthier Boston merchants could build large mansions with space in the inner suburbs of the city. The area remained fairly bucolic until the turn of the 20th century when housing development really picked up in Boston’s neighborhoods. By this time, owner Samuel Shuman sold his property on the busy corner lot to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. In 1907, construction of the basement church on the site of the former Shuman Estate began. The original plans called for building a larger, upper church at a later date. However, due to a number of factors over the years, the upper church was never built. After WWII, Roxbury saw a demographic change and the church is largely home to a Black and Hispanic congregation to this day. The former Howard House is still owned by the Archdiocese as the rectory.

St. Andrew R.C. Church – Bethel AME Church // 1921

During the rich Arts and Crafts movement of Boston, dozens of churches and their associated buildings were constructed using principles of the movement, which sought to incorporate English design with hand-crafted detailing, moving away from the mass-produced features and architecture seen in the Victorian-era/Industrial Revolution. After WWI, the Forest Hills neighborhood of Boston saw a massive influx of residents and housing construction, leading to the desire for a new neighborhood church. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese commissioned Boston architects Timothy O’Connell and Richard Shaw, who specialized in ecclesiastical design to build the new church. Opened in 1921, the building is constructed of random ashlar walls with buttresses, lancet windows, and a large rose window, all nods to Gothic architectural precedent. Demographic changes and declining church attendance led the parish, for the first time in 1995, to accept aid from the archdiocese to meet expenses. Unable to justify keeping the church open, the Archdiocese sold the church to Reverend Ray Hammond and the Reverend Gloria White-Hammond, a husband-and-wife pastoral team, who started a local African Methodist Church (Bethel AME Church) in the neighborhood.

Church of the Good Shepherd, Waban // 1896

For the small population living in the farming village of Waban in Newton, MA, every Sunday, they had to take a horse and carriage or walk to church in a nearby village. The Waban Christian Union was the first religious organization to be established in Waban, 1894-1895 after seeing a suburbanization of the village. The church was to be for services of the Protestant Episcopal Faith, though the group claimed no allegiance to the Diocese, nor was it organized according to the laws of the church. It was independently owned by a corporation that felt the need for a religious association in the community. This church structure was constructed in the
summer of 1896 at a cost of $5000 with William F. Goodwin, a charter member of the group (and resident nearby), donating his services as the architect. The organization leased the space to a pastor for $200 a year, later selling it to the congregation, known now as the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Catholic Church // 1909

One of the grandest churches around Boston, Mary Immaculate of Lourdes R.C. Church, is in Upper Falls Newton, a working class village which developed around industrial mills in the 19th century. The church, built in 1909, towers above the workers cottages and smaller frame homes in the neighborhood showing the wealth and importance of the Catholic Church to Irish immigrants who worked and lived nearby. This parish was the first in the town of Newton and it comprised of multiple villages along with parts of Wellesley and Needham. The parish was formed in the 1840s and eventually grew so much it petitioned the Archdiocese to construct a new house of worship worthy of the population. In the early 20th century, a site was secured, and the house on the lot was moved for the erection of a new church. Edward T. P. Graham was selected as the architect, who designed this Renaissance Revival church. The commanding monumental columned portico rises over two stories and supports a projecting pediment which has decorative modillion blocks, cast figures within depicting religious figures. A campanile (bell tower) is located at the rear corner and is of Italian Renaissance design. In 2004, the Archdiocese had put Mary Immaculate on the closing list of churches; however, in 2006, the Cardinal had reconsidered his plan to close the church and decided to close a church in nearby Waban Village instead.