JP History: Blessed Sacrament’s 120 years in Hyde Square

July 19, 2013
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The former Blessed Sacrament Church building is in the spotlight again with it soon to have its third owner in a decade. The church building has a long and storied history.

The church is located on the Blessed Sacrament campus at 365 Centre St. and is bordered by Creighton and Sunnyside Streets.

According to a document written by local historian Richard Heath, the Blessed Sacrament campus property was bought by the Redemptorist Fathers of Mission Church in 1891. The Redemptorist Fathers still run Mission Church in Mission Hill. The campus property was formerly the estate of James Kenney, a city brewer.

On the property, there was a large wood-frame house that was built in 1830 and that the new owners used as a chapel after the purchase, according to Heath. Blessed Sacrament became a separate parish independent of the Redemptorist Fathers in 1892 with Rev. Arthur T. Connolly the founding pastor, wrote Heath. Connolly would serve until 1931. Connolly is the namesake of the City branch library in Hyde Square.

“Father Connolly built Blessed Sacrament as a campus church because unlike the older St. Thomas and the later Our Lady of Lourdes churches [in Jamaica Plain], Blessed Sacrament owned one, large single lot unbroken by streets,” wrote Heath.

On the campus, a three-story Colonial Revival rectory at the corner of Creighton Street was built in 1894, a primary school in 1898, a convent in 1896, the Chevrus School in 1901 and the St. Norbert’s School in 1926, according to Heath.

Heath wrote that Connolly wanted a “great and beautiful” church for the campus and he got it with a design from Charles R. Greco. The church design had “an octagonal belvedere dome 90 feet high, a landmark in Jamaica Plain,” according to Health.

“The building is about a half-acre in size and is distinguished by one of the greatest church facades in Boston, an entrance porch of two monumental Ionic columns 60 feet high supporting a pedimented attic. Under the pediment was set a gorgeous rosette stained glass window,” wrote Heath.

The church was built at a cost of $115,000, which included 15 stained-glass windows designed and made by the Boston master glass artisan Charles Connick, according to Heath. Construction of the church finished in 1917. After the church was shut down and sold, 11 windows were moved to the Sacred Heart Church in Weymouth in 2007.

The church campus was controversially closed in 2004 and was bought by the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) and New Atlantic Development in 2005. The campus has been redeveloped over the years, including the rectory building being put on wheels to move and become condos. The convent became housing and the Norbert School has plans to become 21 apartment units. A mixed-use building was also built at the corner of Creighton and Centre Streets.

The Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF) bought and uses the Chevrus building on the campus, and reportedly now has a deal finalized to purchase the church. JPNDC and New Atlantic had planned to turn the church into condos, but HSTF has said it will use it for community space. There has been an effort in the past to landmark the church.blessed sacrament

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