In the 1920s Italian-speaking residents in Everett, Massachusetts appealed to Archbishop of Boston, William O’Connell for an Italian parish. Everett had seen a large influx of Italian immigrants who settled in town and the surrounding communities for work. The Archdiocese saw the demand, and rented the former Broadway Theater to be used as a church for the short term. In 1951, land was acquired a few blocks away for a new church, school and rectory. The church was designed to resemble historic Romanesque-style churches seen in Italy, with the school and renovated rectory following the Modern tradition. The brick and limestone church appears to have been built more in the historical tradition, with hand-carved stone trim and a beautiful rose window. It’s amazing that this church was built in the 1950s!
The Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Everett, Massachusetts, is an imposing Gothic Revival building, that shows how the church spared no expense to build imposing and awe-inspiring edifices all over New England. Constructed of red brick with Longmeadow brownstone trim, the church was designed by preeminent Catholic Church architect Patrick W. Ford and the cornerstone was laid in 1896. Ford was born in Ireland and in 1872, he moved to Boston and opened his own practice. He was widely recognized as an authority on church architecture and his practice focused primarily on designing churches and institutional buildings for the Roman Catholic Church in New England. Ford died suddenly at age 52 in August 1900. Due to a lack of funds, the church was not completed until 1908, so Ford did not see this church completed in his lifetime. The work was completed by architects Reid & McAlpine and is stunning with its square corner tower topped by a pyramidal spire with smaller pinnacles marking the corners of the tower. The projecting entry porch has three, pointed arch openings and is topped by crenellation. The congregation appears pretty active to this day.
The oldest surviving church in Everett, Massachusetts is this one, the First Congregational Church, built in 1852 when the city was still a part of Malden. As in many other communities, this church was formed when the surrounding area of South Malden had grown and had the means to support its own religious society. Before this, residents had to travel to Malden Center for services. In 1848, it was voted to establish the church calling it the Winthrop Congregational Church, as at the time, it was thought that when South Malden would split away, the new town would be named “Winthrop”. When the town finally split in 1870, another town had already taken that name. Originally, the Italianate-style building was sheathed in wood clapboards and outlined by pilasters, both of which were covered or removed for the installation of aluminum siding, very common in the city after WWII. Remaining hallmarks of the Italianate style include the paired cornice brackets and the round-headed windows. The tower was originally capped by a taller steeple above an open octagonal arcaded belfry, but was replaced by the present spire in 1911. The church was possibly an early design by architect Thomas Silloway. Today, the church is occupied by Universal Church USA, a congregation that originated in Brazil, showing how the local community and demographics have shifted in Everett from 150 years ago.
The Assonet Congregational Church, now the United Church of Assonet was originally known as the Town Church and was organized in 1704. In 1807, fifteen residents of town, all from prominent families, gathered to ‘‘manifesting the desire to enter into a Church estate.’‘ Land was deeded to the church in 1807, and the Federal style edifice was constructed the next year. Documentation on its construction is limited, with research stating, “we can only speculate on the construction of this beautiful Church
building. It is believed that Ebenezer Peirce (1777-1852) of Assonet and Middleboro was the master builder assisted by ship builders of the village. Mr. Peirce sent his sloop “Unicorn” to the Penobscot River region in Maine to procure most of the lumber.” The church is in great condition today, even retaining its bell, cast by Paul Revere, and original box pews. Sadly, in October 1910, the steeple was struck by lightning and the acorn top blew off. The 1880s clock was damaged but repaired. The steeple was re-installed or reconstructed, but deferred maintenance required the church to remove it and the Revere bell in the early 2000s until funding could be gathered to restore, nothing yet. What I wouldn’t do to see the original acorn top of this steeple again!
This beautiful old building was constructed in 1881 in Lancaster, MA as a Swedenborgian Church. The congregation in The United States has always been much smaller than other prominent religions, but Lancaster had a sizable group of believers. Some wealthier residents bankrolled for a new church building, which would and could not compete with the Unitarian Church designed by Charles Bulfinch. Architect Francis Ward Chandler from the Boston firm of Cabot & Chandler designed the modest, yet beautiful building in the Queen Anne style. The congregation died off and in 1923, the building was purchased by members of the Current Topics Club, seemingly a debate and social club in town. The old church sold in 2020 as a residence.
The Lancaster Industrial School for Girls was a self-sustained campus of housing, dining, farming, and functional buildings giving the State of Massachusetts little need to worry about its day-to-day function or funding. In 1838, the First Universalist Society in South Lancaster (then known as New Boston), built a house of worship for members living there. When the southern part of Lancaster reincorporated as the separate town of Clinton, members of the church relocated a short distance to the new manufacturing-oriented community for prosperity. This church was closed, but was purchased by the Industrial School for Girls, who moved the building 1.5 miles to their campus, for use as a chapel. The building was added onto and altered a couple times, but has sat deteriorating since the school closed.
Rochester’s First Congregational Church is the oldest extant building still standing on the Town Green in Rochester Center and is the fourth house of worship to occupy the site. Constructed in 1837 to the designs of architect, Solomon K. Eaton, the beautiful Gothic Revival church building is among the most beautiful in the state. Eaton was well-known for his ecclesiastical structures, but also designed other prominent civic buildings in Southeastern Massachusetts. A fun fact about Eaton is that at age 55, he volunteered for the Union Army during the Civil War and his unit saw action in North Carolina, he returned home after the war and lived out his final days. The church stands out to me for the quatrefoil windows on the bell tower, the pointed finials and comer posts, and large lancet windows. Swoon!
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.
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.
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.