Renewing Boston's Catholic Churches : understanding their reuse by other religious denominations and the ramifications for historical significance and integrity
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Type of Work182 p.
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
RightsTo view a complete copy of this thesis please contact Goucher College Special Collections & Archives at email@example.com or (410) 337-6075.
SubjectsChurch buildings -- Massachusetts -- Boston.
Catholic church buildings.
Historic buildings -- Remodeling for other use -- Massachusetts -- Boston.
Historic preservation -- Theses
Faced with a shortage of priests, a financial crisis, and the changing worshipping patterns of its parishioners, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston determined to undergo a parish reconfiguration in 2004. The result was the closing of forty-three parishes, and the subsequent sale of twenty-nine church buildings, eleven of which were purchased by various Christian denominations for renewed use. This thesis demonstrates how professionally accepted preservation standards can be expanded to more fully understand and evaluate the historical significance and integrity of the renewed former Catholic Churches. A thematic framework, first proposed by theorist and historian Lindsay Jones, was applied to each case study church to achieve an enhanced interpretation of its sacred and cultural history. This method emphasizes how the adherents, the church building, and the larger community are interrelated and essential to the preservationist's comprehensive assessment of ecclesiastical architecture. The research further demonstrates that renewed use, though accompanied by some physical changes, can be a successful preservation strategy. Moreover, good stewardship is best realized through the collaborative efforts of the archdiocese, the Catholic parishioners, and the succeeding congregation. This thesis begins with a concise synopsis of the parish reconfiguration in Boston, with attention to its causes and the relevant canonical laws and policies. An overview of Catholicism and church-building throughout twentieth-century Boston follows to establish the historic context of the resources; the importance of Boston’s ethnic configuration and immigration patterns during this time period is explored. Next, research is presented to reveal how the original design and sacred nature of the former Catholic church buildings affects the subsequent use by the succeeding congregations. The study then analyzes the churches from the opposing perspective and examines the impacts of the renewed use and its associated liturgical and ministerial needs on the buildings. Finally, this thesis concludes by challenging the current modes of analyzing ecclesiastical architecture and argues for an enhanced model that considers how renewed use enriches historical significance and integrity.