(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
The scaffolding that has earned the All Saints church in Dorchester the nickname the “Green Monster of Peabody Square” could soon be a thing of the past as construction crews prepare to finish up renovations to the church’s exterior.
Since the beginning of summer crews with Consigli Construction have been working diligently on the multi-million dollar restoration of the 121-year-old church. The second phase of the project, expected to begin in January 2014, will include interior repairs.
Although the restoration of the church is exciting for its 350 odd parishioners, the detail crews are putting into the project has also generated a lot of interest outside of the church community, according to Jeffery Gonyeau, a parishioner at the church who is providing technical support for the project.
“You really don’t find many groups that go to this length during a restoration project,” said Gonyeau. “In the preservation world this has gotten a lot of attention and we’ve even led tours of the work. It shows that these high level preservation efforts can and should happen in all of Boston’s neighborhoods.”
From the use of slate and copper, to the painstaking process of removing rotting masonry and replacing it, Gonyeau said crews are sticking with historical materials and making sure the church doesn’t lose any of its character. The property is also of particular interest for architecture buffs because it was the first building designed by Ralph Adams Cram, the man behind the Sagamore Bridge and West Point.
“In some sense it [the church’s restoration] kind of completes the work that has been taking place in Peabody Square area,” said Gonyeau. “From the Carruth Building to Ashmont Station a lot of work has gone into the area and this is part of that revitalization.”
The church itself may have a long history in the neighborhood, but the project promises to bring even more history to the community, as organizers prepare to install an 84-year-old organ manufactured by Ernest Skinner, once a resident of Dorchester.
“We’re in some sense bringing the history back,” said Gonyeau. “He lived in Savin Hill and his organ factory was on Crescent Avenue, but none of his organs are left in the neighborhood.”
The organ, which came from a North Adams church, is currently being restored and will be moved into the church during the second phase of the rehabilitation.
Right now, crews are moving forward with the work on the church’s exterior, including making the property accessible and refurbishing the building’s stained glass windows. Gonyeau said they expect have the first phase completed by the end of 2013, which means the scaffolding should be down by the New Year.
Crews will then move onto repairs in the church’s interior including its wiring, plumbing, and heating, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.
“At a time when churches are shutting down All Saints is doing the opposite,” said Gonyeau. “We’re thriving as a parish and to be able to do this work has invigorated the congregation.”
Although Gonyeau admitted that the work can be an inconvenience, especially on Sunday when members find themselves crammed between ladders and power tools, he said it will make sure the church is around for generations.
“People are happy to see the work being done,” said Gonyeau. “It may be an inconvenience, but it means we'll be ready for the next 100-years.”
For more updates on the work, click here.