St. Rita’s Roman Catholic Church // 1916

A Roman Catholic parish was established in the South Coast/Cape Cod area by 1830 in Sandwich, where a large glass company employed a number of Irish immigrants. Over the course of the 19th century, several mission churches were established, and eventually a second parish, St. Patrick’s, was established in Wareham in 1911. Soon after, a mission was established in nearby Marion to serve the summertime Catholic community there. A parcel of land was acquired by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Fall River and they hired architect Matthew Sullivan to furnish plans for the small church. Matthew Sullivan (1868–1948) trained in the office of Edmund M. Wheelwright, Boston City Architect (1891-1894). Sullivan succeeded Wheelwright as City Architect and served in that position from 1895 to 1901, when he became a junior partner in the firm of Maginnis, Walsh and Sullivan, which was widely known for its ecclesiastical work, where he too specialized in religious buildings. St. Rita’s Roman Catholic Church is an example of an early 20th century chapel in the Craftsman style, characterized by eaves marked by long projecting rafter tails and a bold entry framed by Tuscan columns.

Mount Hope Cemetery Chapel // 1908

Mount Hope Cemetery in Acton was laid out in 1848 as the third municipal burying ground for the town. Before that, there was a need for a cemetery between the West and South Acton villages, closer to the developing parts of town, without a cemetery of their own. The cemetery was laid out with paths following a grid pattern, with land tapering off towards the rear. The cemetery, used by many prominent families of Acton, was without a chapel for over 50 years until funds were donated by George C. Wright a wealthy resident who lived nearby (featured in the last post). Town officials proceeded to build a small building that was apparently was quite different from the vision that Mr. Wright had for the building, but Mr. Wright generously agreed to accept what had been done and presented it to the town. At the 1909 annual town meeting, the town formally acknowledged the gift. It saw some use as a chapel in the early days, but has since been used for storage and an office for groundskeeping.

Oak Hill Evangelical Chapel // 1903

On a busy road in Oak Hill Village in Newton, Massachusetts, I saw this house which appeared as if it was built for a different use. After searching historic maps, I found it was originally home to the Oak Hill Evangelical Society, as a rural chapel. The chapel served as a local religious gathering place for the handful of families who lived around this section of Oak Hill and did not desire to travel to nearby villages to worship. The practitioners had money, and hired the Boston architectural firm of Cooper and Bailey, who designed many stunning civic and institutional buildings in New England. With the proliferation of the personal automobile, locals would later be able to travel to nearby churches easier, and this building was sold to a member, who converted it to residential use, which it has been used as to this day. The building is an excellent example of the Arts and Crafts architectural style with the raised rubblestone foundation, flared eaves with exposed rafters, and shingle siding which flares where it meets the foundation.