There were two St. John the Evangelist Churches in Clinton before the current one, at 80 Union Street, was built in 1886. Begun as a mission church to the growing community’s Irish immigrants in the 1840s, the the first church was dedicated on October 4, 1850. It was a wood frame church on South Main Street. As described by Andrew Elmer Ford in his History of the Origin of the Town of Clinton, Massachusetts, 1653-1865 (1896):
The inclosure of pine trees which today makes the former location of the church conspicuous, was set out under the direction of Father Boyce. At first, this church was much more simply furnished than in its later days. The galleries, the pews, the organ and the furnace were put in as the means of the people increased.
This building was soon outgrown, as was the second church, a temporary structure also built of wood, which was occupied in 1869. The original church was demolished in 1874. As related in a historical sermon by Rev. Edward J. Fitzgerald that appears in the volume commemorating the Semi-centennial Celebration of the Incorporation of the Town of Clinton, Mar. 14, 1850, which took place on June 17, 18, 19, 1900:
Already the old church was inadequate and the growing numbers and the increasing prosperity of the Catholics made the plan of erecting an enduring church, which would be a glory to the God who dwelt therein and an ornament to the town, no longer a chimera. The year 1875 saw the consummation of this project, when on August 8 the erstwhile curate, now the first Bishop of the Springfield diocese, laid the corner-stone of St. John’s Church in which we are assembled today. The basement finished, the work lagged somewhat for five years, when by the united efforts of the loyal and generous people of the parish, the superstructure was raised and ornamented, and 1886 saw it dedicated to God with the beautiful ceremonial of our church, the Right Reverend Bishop being surrounded by the most dignified members of his clergy, and the lesson of the event being pointed out by eloquent lips.
The parish is called Saint John the Guardian of Our Lady Parish at St. John the Evangelist Church.