(Image courtesy Pilgrim Church)
The red brick Pilgrim Church in Dorchester has been accepted onto the National Register of Historic Places, permanently recognizing its significance and opening it up to funding sources specifically designed for historic structures.
Construction of the church, at 540 Columbia Road. in Uphams Corner, began in 1890. It was designed by Stephen Carpenter Earle, who also designed the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Old Chapel and Memorial Hall in Canton, among a number of other notable structures.
“It’s really great that the federal government is saying that a building in Dorchester is important to the nation,” said John Odams, the reverend of the Pilgrim Trinitarian Congregational Church. “It’s an important building that should be preserved. The registration will hopefully open it up to a lot more funding sources.”
Highlighted for its age, design, and architect, Odams said the church, which still has regular services, is a marker for when the neighborhood of Dorchester switched from a rural community to suburban neighborhood of Boston.
“When he [Stephen Carpenter Earle] began his work in Dorchester it was just becoming a street carriage suburb of Boston,” Odams said. “What would have been considered a downtown church was being built right in the suburbs, which was unusual for the time.”
Although the announcement is exciting for the congregation of 20 that call the church home, Odams said its biggest impact will be helping raise money for its restoration.
“We will be using this as a tool for applying for grants,” Odams said. “When people started moving to the suburbs in the 50s that was the last time it was really renovated from top to bottom and it’s getting to the point where it needs the work.”
From its plumbing to its masonry, Odams said the church is showing its age, but he is confident that the work can get done and the structure will continue to add to the history and culture of the neighborhood.
“The church is a source of pride beyond the congregation,” Odams said. “It shows the history of the neighborhood and the restoration is for the community as a whole.”
With the new designation, Odams said the church will now begin fund-raising for restoration work.
Founded in 1863 in Dorchester, the Pilgrim Trinitarian Congregational Church was first located on Stoughton Street until the congregation moved to its Columbia Road home.
More information about the church and its history can be found on its website.