11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Historic Catholic Churches of Greater Boston

Year Listed: 2005
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Threat: Poor Public Policy

Historic
St. Franice de Sales Church in Boston, Massachusetts.

Significance

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston encompasses 144 cities and towns in Suffolk, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Plymouth counties in eastern Massachusetts. The assemblage of historic buildings – churches, schools, rectories, convents, parish halls and related structures and landscapes – included in the parish complexes of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston represent an extraordinary collection of historically, architecturally, and artistically significant properties that are deeply associated with the social, cultural and demographic histories of scores of communities across eastern Massachusetts. The buildings represent a wide range of styles from High Victorian Gothic to Arts and Crafts and are intertwined with the development of many historic and ethnic neighborhoods across Boston and eastern Massachusetts.

In 2004, the Boston archdiocese began the process of closing, consolidating and disposing of properties in more than 80 of its 357 parishes-a process leading to the sale, redevelopment and demolition of an unprecedented number of historically and architecturally significant churches, rectories and convents. Although deferred maintenance and deterioration are challenges for many stewards of historic religions buildings, the concentration of historic churches and their surrounding complexes closed was alarming to many. The archdiocese closed dozens of churches, schools and other related buildings in greater Boston. Some have been demolished, some are being rehabilitated for new uses such as housing or as worship space for other denominations, and others have pending legal action.