St. Patrick's Church
St. Patrick's Church
Church buildings -- Watertown -- Massachusetts.; Church history -- Watertown -- Massachusetts.; Watertown (Mass.) -- Social life and customs.; Catholic churches -- Watertown (Mass.).; Bullard, Egbert G.; Flood, Patrick -- d.1863.; Stark, Robert P. -- d. 1895.; Cullen, John S. -- d. 1908.;
St. Patrick?s Church, Main Street. This is the second St. Patrick?s Church building, the original one was on Church Hill Street (built 1848, demolished 1997) and this one was built in 1901 designed by Egbert G. Bullard of New Bedford. In 1846, 100 Catholics lived in Watertown and services were held in the "Whig's Reading Room" located on Watertown Square by Fr. Patrick Flood. Later a group purchased the old Methodist meting house, under the disguise for it would be a bonnet factory, which was remodeled into the first Catholic Church. The Methodist Church tried to nullify the deal through a technicality in the contract, but Bishop Fitzpatrick threatened court action. In June, 1847, the building was moved to Church Hill (later Church Hill Street) and renovated. Within months, however, it was decided to build an even larger structure adjacent to the old one, and on September 27, 1847, Bishop Fitzpatrick, assisted by Fr. Flood and Fr. P. O?Beirne, blessed the cornerstone. The new parish and church were named Saint Patrick in honor of the predominantly Irish heritage of its immigrant congregation. Like so many structures built in the Romanesque style, the new church was elegant in its simplicity and functional in layout, with a capacity for eight hundred worshippers. Niched at the back of the main altar were statues of Saint Joseph Carrying the Infant and of Saint Patrick. The side altars were erected in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin. The choir loft at the front held a large organ, the auditorium was neatly frescoed, and the interior was brightened by stained glass windows that had been donated by parishioners. In 1851 Fr. Bernard Flood from Montreal, Canada came to assist the church. Rev. B.Flood removed to Waltham, MA in 1864 and Fr. John W. McCarthy took over until 1871 when Fr. Michael. M. Green was appointed minister. In June of the same year, Fr. Robert P. Stack became his assistant. Fr. Green removed to Newton to a large church he had supervised the building. Under Fr. Stack's guidance the church had been enlarged and decorated, a parochial residence on Chestnut Street erected, a cemetery purchased and a $35,000 brick school house built on Church Hill Street. In 1888, Fr. Stack realized one of his most ambitious plans -- the opening of Saint Patrick Grammar School in a newly constructed building adjacent to the church. Fr. Stack asked the Sisters of Saint Dominic of Springfield, Kentucky to provide the faculty. Their new lodgings were in the old Methodist meeting house which had been converted to a convent. Fr. John S. Cullen, a native of Ireland but had lived in America since 1871, went forward for an edifice to be located on Main Street on the property where the old rectory had stood. The laying of the cornerstone of the present Saint Patrick Church took place on June 30, 1901. According to a local newspaper, the Tribune-Enterprise, the Sunday of the completed church?s dedication in May of 1906. This imposing Gothic structure stands in stark contrast to its humbler predecessors. With its wide, sweeping walkway and its commanding view of Saltonstall Park and Whitney Hill. he interior was no less impressive. With a capacity of fifteen hundred, the new church could seat nearly twice as many worshippers as the old. Its main altar and two shrines, one devoted to Saint Joseph and the other to the Blessed Virgin, were made of Iowa marble. The stained glass windows were acquired through the donations of certain parishioners, usually in memory of deceased family members. One window, set in the lobby on the Chestnut Street side was purchased by the altar boys of 1904. The two windows above the altar, both of which depict scenes from the life of Saint Patrick, were made of European glass. The rest of the windows throughout the church were made of American opalescent glass by the George W. Spence company of Boston, and are believed to have been designed by the renowned stained glass artist Charles jay Connick. Once the new church was in operation, the old Church Hill Street building was converted into a parish hall. Its main altar and the two side shrines, together with the organ, were moved to the lower church on Main Street. In 1909, a newly cast bell was installed in the belfry of the new church. For many years the identity of the bell?s donor remained a mystery. An envelope containing a large sum of money was left on the altar one day with a more stating that the money was to be used for that purpose. It was signed "The gift of one who wishes to be known only to God." However, fifteen years later, a receipt for the bell?s purchase was found in the Bible of the then recently deceased sacristan Miss Mary Tugman and the mystery was solved. Upon the death in 1908 of Fr. Cullen, he was succeeded by Msgr. Ambrose F. Roche. Msgr. Roche acquired the Townsend family estate on Chestnut Street for use as a new convent in 1909. In the spring of 1916, a new chapel and two reception rooms were added to the building. Shortly after re-situating the Dominicans in their new convent, Msgr. Roche moved the high school into the now vacant building on Church Hill Street, the old Methodist meeting house which had been renovated into the first Saint Patrick Church. In 1928 Msgr. Roche was succeeded at Saint Patrick by his good friend Fr. Daniel Riordan. Fr. Riordan, who was elevated to Monsignor in 1945. Fifty parishes were founded in the Archdiocese between 1944 and 1954, including Saint Jude?s of Waltham which incorporated the western part of Saint Patrick within its territory. Monsignor Houlihan devoted much of his time to improving parish facilities. In 1959, the old convent was razed and a modern structure built on the same site. The adjacent house, which Msgr. Houlihan had purchased from the Leahy family in the early fifties, was converted into a meeting house. The Manor, as this building was known, was later used as the parish office until 1988 when Fr. Chambers moved the office into the Rectory. The exterior was sandblasted, the roof beams were reinforced, and the interior of the upper church given a facelift. The tower and steeple were repaired as well, and in the lower church new altars were installed. The Baptistry was given a new looking thanks to the handyman skills of Fr. Buckley who serve here from 1960-1965. Upon Msgr. Houlihan?s retirement in 1968, Fr. John M. Donelin was transferred to Saint Patrick. Under his direction, the lower church was remodeled again, the steeple rebuilt, and the main sanctuary renovated. In January, 1997, the old church at the top of Church Hill was torn down.
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“St. Patrick's Church,” Digital Commonwealth , accessed March 7, 2014, http://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/items/show/53353.