St. Mary’s Church, Beverly // 1898

Located on Cabot Street, the main commercial street of Beverly, Massachusetts, this stunning stone church is one of my favorites on the North Shore. Though the church looks older, it was built in 1898 as a late Romanesque Revival church structure. The building replaced an 1870 building erected by the parish of St. Mary’s Star of the Sea, which was a mission church of the Immaculate Conception Church of Salem; prior to 1870, Beverly’s Catholics were part of the Salem parish. The 1870 church was destroyed by a fire in 1896 and it was years until the Diocese funded a new church here. The new church was designed by a newly formed firm of Reid and McAlpine, who later continued their practice in Canada. The parish pulled out all the stops design-wise as the windows and statuary were fashioned by Franz Mayer & Company of Bavaria, the Altars were carved by an artisan from Italy, and the pulpit and altar railing were carved by a local artisan. The church served a large and growing Irish Catholic population that was forming in Beverly, and has to this day been an active congregation.

First Baptist Church, Beverly // 1976

Walking down the main street in Beverly, I was stopped in my tracks to see what appeared to be a 19th century steeple attached to a Modern church. I snapped a photo hoping I could find information on the architectural oddity I saw. The church is the First Baptist Church of Beverly, which was founded in 1800. The congregation’s first place of worship was constructed a year later for the town’s small Baptist population. The building was eventually outgrown and a large church was constructed in 1866 on Cabot Street, the main commercial street in town. The massive wooden church was an architectural landmark and its steeple has served as a lighthouse since the 1920s! The Coast Guard installed a range light in the steeple in 1921 as ships began using the harbor to get to the Salem power plant. It shines every night, even now, and can be seen 13 miles out to sea. Sadly, in 1975, a blaze ripped through the 880-seat sanctuary and chapel, destroying almost all of the church, but the steeple was saved thanks to firefighters from over 15 nearby towns who came to the aid of Beverly. The congregation noted that as the steeple persevered, so would they. A new, Modern church was designed, and incorporated the corner steeple into the new sanctuary, creating the interesting blending of mid-19th and -20th century styles.

St. Therese of the Infant Jesus Church // 1927

This church in Agawam was built in 1927, replacing the first Catholic church in town, which was established in 1873. The earlier church was destroyed by a fire in 1925, causing the congregation and Archdiocese to fund construction of a new, fireproof church building. The Neo-Gothic Revival building features lancet windows, buttresses, and a central steeple. The building is now occupied as the Moldovian Baptist Church.

North Adams Universalist Church // 1893

Tucked away off Main Street in North Adams you’ll find this charming little church. The Universalists were organized in North Adams in 1842, restoring an existing church near the Hoosic River. The congregation chose a site for a new church in 1852, and erected a white wooden chapel. It is unclear if the church was outgrown or a fire destroyed it, but the Unitarian society voted to build this church for a cost of approximately $25,000 in 1892. Architect Henry Neill Wilson of Pittsfield drew the plans, and the firm of Porter and Harnam of North Adams constructed the church. Due to the declining population in town in the mid-20th century, the church struggled and was sold to a private owner. The building began to decay by the 1970s and was later sold in 1996 to Barbara and Eric Rudd to house artist Eric Rudd’s installation entitled “A Chapel for Humanity”. The building is currently used as the Berkshire Art Museum Annex.