Church windows find afterlife

December 15, 2006
By

JOHN RUCH

HYDE SQ.—Stained glass windows from the former Blessed Sacrament Church will find an afterlife in Weymouth’s Sacred Heart Church, which is rebuilding after a devastating fire.

Sacred Heart’s Father Harry Kaufman said he hopes that former Blessed Sacrament parishioners “will be thrilled knowing that something from their church is being used in a new church, the newest church in the archdiocese.”

The series of 10 windows depicting the life of Jesus originally ran around the sanctuary of the Blessed Sacrament Church at 365 Centre St., high up near the ceiling. They will soon decorate the main body of Sacred Heart.

Sacred Heart’s own stained glass windows, valued at $2.5 million, were destroyed along with everything else when the 1871 church burned in 2005. Blessed Sacrament was closed by the archdiocese in 2004. Reconstruction of Sacred Heart is now under way with hopes of December, 2007 opening.

“We wanted to replace our fantastic windows,” Kaufman said, explaining that the church formed a window search committee. Some windows were obtained from two Lowell churches, but the committee continued to hunt a series of high-quality windows for its main sanctuary. Then the committee visited Blessed Sacrament.

“I looked at the windows and just said, ‘Wow!’ Kaufman said. “They really popped out at me. I looked at the [reconstruction project] architect. He smiled, and I smiled. I pointed at them and said, ‘We’ll take them.’”

There were 14 windows in the Blessed Sacrament series, but Sacred Heart is only using 10 that were in the best condition. Some of them need repairs, which are being done by a Hyde Park restoration company.

Zoning Commission
Meanwhile, the Blessed Sacrament complex is undergoing its own rebirth into a development featuring housing, commercial space, community programs, offices and a school.

On Dec. 6, the city Zoning Commission heard a proposal from the developers—the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation and New Atlantic Development—for a zoning map amendment on the site. The commission delayed its vote until a business meeting scheduled for Thursday afternoon as the Gazette went to press.

The map amendment would change the underlying zoning on the site to make construction permitting easier. The Sunnyside Neighborhood Association (SNA), a group of abutters, has proposed an alternative map amendment that essentially would reduce the allowable density. Both sides spoke at length at the Zoning Commission hearing. The SNA got one of its wishes in the form of the delayed vote, though the main reason for the delay appears to have been that the hearing ran very late.