What Did The Trinitarian Congregational Church Know That The Catholic Church Did Not?

Or Did They?

PilgramBoston.com’s Patrick Russo’s report on the acceptance of the Pilgrim Church in Dorchester onto The National Register of Historic Places is interesting for two reasons. One is that the South Boston Historical Society has planned a lecture on the topic of Historic Landmarks this week at the Public Library. The second is that despite the efforts of local residents and the case made in a commentary by SBHS historian and well-known professor of history, Bob Allison, Saint Augustine’s Church did not garner such a designation.

In fact, a year ago almost to this very day, Bob Allison made the case for the historical significance of ‘ Patrick Keely of Kilkenny Ireland, the architect who designed the red brick St. Augustine’s Church, and was the foremost Catholic architect of the 19th-century. He became one of the most prolific church architects in his adopted country.  Keely designed sixteen cathedrals and over 700 churches, including the cathedrals in Chicago, Hartford, Providence, Brooklyn, and of course the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston.

Keely is to the design of Catholic churches what Charles Bulfinch was for the design of Protestant churches. He created the model for worship in the 19th-century.  These are not great buildings because Keely was a great architect—Keely was a great architect because he created extraordinary buildings. His churches were primarily places of worship, but they were also gathering points for a community becoming part of American society.’  – See more at: http://southbostontod.wpengine.com/did-you-know-3/#sthash.Gzq5yJxY.dpuf

As reported by Russo, the red brick Pilgrim Church in Dorchester has been permanently recognized for its significance and opening it up to funding sources specifically designed for historic structures. Construction of the church, at 540 Columbia Road in Uphams Corner, began in 1890. It was designed by Stephen Carpenter Earle, who also designed the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Old Chapel and Memorial Hall in Canton, among a number of other notable structures.

“It’s really great that the federal government is saying that a building in Dorchester is important to the nation,” said John Odams, the reverend of the Pilgrim Trinitarian Congregational Church. “It’s an important building that should be preserved. The registration will hopefully open it up to a lot more funding sources.” “The church is a source of pride beyond the congregation,” Odams said. “It shows the history of the neighborhood and the restoration is for the community as a whole.” Highlighted for its age, design, and architect, Odams said the church, which still has regular services, is a marker for when the neighborhood of Dorchester switched from a rural community to suburban neighborhood of Boston.

Perhaps, Ellen Lipsey of the Boston Landmarks Commission will enlighten the neighborhood on what the Trinitarians were able to do that the Catholics were not. Come to the South Boston Library (646 East Broadway) on Monday, January 27, 6:30 p.m. and learn.