Category Archives: Churches

Naumkeag Trust Company (1900)

Naumkeag Trust Company

The building at 217 Essex Street in Salem was built in 1900 to house the retail store of W.E. Hoyt Company. A decade later, the Hoyt Block was acquired by the Naumkeag Trust Company, which hired Boston architects Franklin H. Hutchins and Arthur W. Rice to remodel the interior to become a bank building. The history of the Naumkeag Trust Company is related in Vol. II of the Municipal History of Essex County in Massachusetts (1922):

The Naumkeag Bank was incorporated March 17, 1831, with $200,000 capital, subsequently increased to $500,000. It commenced business in the Benjamin Dodge store building, on Essex street, opposite the Essex House, then was moved to the Manning building, and in 1872 to the second floor of the Asiatic building, Washington street. David Pingree was its first president. In 1864 this institution was changed to the Naumkeag National Bank.

It then became the Naumkeag Trust Company, which was established October 7, 1909. The building is now home to The Gathering at Salem, an interdenominational Christian church.

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Mater Dolorosa Roman Catholic Church (1901)

Mater Dolorosa Church

Mater Dolorosa Parish in Holyoke was established in 1896 as a Polish Roman Catholic parish. Worship took place in the basement of Our Lady of the Rosary Church until Mater Dolorosa Church, at 173 Lyman Street, was dedicated in 1901. Mater Dolorosa Catholic School opened a decade later. The church was closed in 2011 when Mater Dolorosa parish was merged with Holy Cross to form the new Our Lady of the Cross parish. This occurred came following a ruling from the Vatican after five years of appeals and court actions to prevent the closing. Next came controversy between the Catholic Diocese of Springfield and those who want to establish a Polish historic district on Lyman Street that would include the deconsecrated Mater Dolorosa Church. The proposed historic district was rejected by the City Council, but efforts to save the building continue.

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Still River Baptist Church (1832)

Still River Baptist Church

The Baptist Church in the community of Still River in the town of Harvard was organized in 1776 by fourteen members of Harvard’s First Church. In 1782, the Baptist Society acquired the first meeting house building used in nearby Leominster. It was dismantled and reassembled as the Still River Baptist Church on land donated by the congregation’s first pastor, Dr. Isaiah Parker. The old meeting house was moved again to serve as a parsonage when the current church was built in 1832. Various alterations were made to the 1832 church over the years, including an addition in 1902. In 1967, the building, which is located at 213 Still River Road, was acquired by the Harvard Historical Society with the stipulation that they preserve the sanctuary, organ (added in 1870), and various furnishings. The Society converted the vestry into exhibit space

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Harvard Evangelical Congregational Church (1821)

Harvard Evangelical Congregational Church

In 1821, part of the membership of Harvard’s First Church who objected to the town’s granting use of the meeting house to the Unitarian Society split off to form their own separate congregation, the Calvinistic Congregational Society. As related in History of the Town of Harvard, Massachusetts, 1732-1893 (1894) by Henry S. Nourse:

This formal withdrawal left the meeting-house and church furniture in legal possession of those refusing Calvinistic doctrines, and the records, though detained for a time by the clerk, Reuben Whitcomb, a leader in the new society, were soon surrendered to them. April 16, 1821, it was voted to apply to the town tor a piece of the common whereupon to build a meeting-house, and a committee was instructed to present a plan.

April 29 the town gave the ground now in possession of the society, agreeing to remove the pound and hearse-house, then standing upon it. A building forty-four feet by fifty was agreed upon, its cost being divided into one hundred shares of twenty-five dollars each.

Nourse describes later additions to the church:

In August, 1827, a subscription, headed by Seth Nason with a gift of one hundred dollars, was raised to add a cupola to the front of the meeting-house and provide a bell. The sum of $903.50 was obtained, and the addition was made, including an increase in the number of pews. In 1836 a new pulpit was built by a few individuals of the society.

[. . .] March 12, 1855, the society changed its name to “The Evangelical Congregational Society.” In 1858 the gallery pews in the meeting-house were fitted for more convenient use, and two years later the building of a “piazza” brought the church into temporary debt.

The building, at 5 Still River Road, continues to be the home of the Congregational Church of Harvard.

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First Baptist Church, Clinton (1936)

First Baptist Church, Clinton

The First Baptist Church in Clinton began in 1847, the congregation meeting in a chapel previously used by the local Congregational Church. As related in a historical sermon by Rev. Charles M. Bowers, printed in the Semi-centennial Celebration of the Incorporation of the Town of Clinton (1900):

The first year of the church had hardly ended before the poor accommodations of the chapel made it necessary to think of building a proper meeting-house, but the question of means was a fearful question. Yet the Lord gave us Alanson Chace and George Cummings to lead in generous subscriptions; others of smaller means were encouraged to follow, and the combined gifts, with contributions from neighboring churches and individuals, provided a neat and comfortable sanctuary at a cost of six thousand dollars, with a seating capacity of four hundred and fifty worshippers. This house was dedicated in 1849. In 1867, or eighteen years after, the church had so increased in numbers that a larger house seemed a necessity, and a new structure by reconstruction and addition was obtained, which, with the organ, cost about eleven thousand dollars, and gave sittings for a congregation of six hundred. The new building was dedicated in 1868.

Twenty-five more years passed away, and it seemed in the judgment of many that with a very popular and attractive preacher we should join the attractions of a still better house. Human nature takes very kindly to human nature, and our third provision for worship in less than fifty years resulted in the beautiful, commodious and well arranged house in which we are now gathered.

The 1890s church burned down in 1934 and was replaced by the current church (14 Walnut Street) in 1936.

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Congregational Church of Interlaken (1827)

Congregational Church of Interlaken

In 1824 plans were made to build a new meeting house by the Stockbridge Congregational Church. The location of the building was a point of contention between members of the congregation. Although it was eventually built near the site of the community’s first meeting house, church members living in the north section of town, known as Curtisville (named for the mill complex erected by Stephen Curtis), felt that the distance was too far to travel. In 1825, after much debate, it was decided to let a new Congregational Society be formed in Curtisville. The North Congregational Society met in the Red School House on Larrywaug Crossroads until its own church, also on Larrywaug Crossroad, was dedicated on January 10, 1827. The building was used until 1834 when it was taken down and and rebuilt at its present site at 6 Willard Hill Road. Curtisville later became known as Interlaken and the church as the Congregational Church of Interlaken A brick edifice, it was in use as a church until 2002, when declining membership led to the congregation’s sale of the building. It was converted into the second home of a New York architect.

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Helen Hills Hills Chapel, Smith College (1955)

Helen Hills Hills Chapel

Smith College did not originally have a chapel because its founders wanted students to be part of the Northampton community and attend local churches. Finally in 1953, an alumna from the class of 1908 named Helen Hills Hills (her maiden name was hills and she married a husband named Hills) offered funds for a college chapel. She stipulated that the building should strictly follow the design of traditional New England meeting houses of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Designed by William and Geoffrey Platt (sons of Charles Adams Platt) of New York, the nondenominational Helen Hills Hills Chapel was completed in 1955. The interior of the Chapel (123 Elm Street, Northampton) has recently been modified to create a more flexible space: the old fixed pews have been removed in favor of 300 custom-made oak chairs that can be laid out in different configurations.

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