Dorchester’s own All Saints Church has received a 2016 Massachusetts Historical Commission Historic Preservation Award. Secretary William F. Galvin, who serves as chairman of the commission, presented the award at a recent ceremony in the Massachusetts Archives Building on Columbia Point. All Saints Church is one of 12 projects, individuals, and organizations to be honored.
“The projects the Commission is recognizing this year are particularly diverse and represent the many creative ways that significant historic resources are being preserved across the Commonwealth,” said Secretary Galvin. “The comprehensive restoration of All Saints Church will ensure that this prominent building continues to serve the community for years to come.”
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the church is a nationally significant work by architect Ralph Adams Cram, who designed the church in 1892. Cram’s influential book, Church Building, published in 1906, uses All Saints to illustrate his architectural philosophy. All Saints Church served as the prototype for Late Gothic Revival-style ecclesiastic architecture nationally.
In 2013, the parish launched an extensive campaign to restore the church and adjacent parish house, to update building systems and improve accessibility, and to preserve the buildings for future generations. On the church, slate and copper roofs, flashing, and gutters were replaced in-kind, while the slate roof and copper work of the parish house were repaired.
The project also included extensive masonry conservation and cleaning, and the restoration of stained glass, leaded glass, and other windows in both buildings. The church’s wooden window tracery, which suffered from hidden rot, was repaired and restored. Extensive preservation was completed on all interior finishes.
The team carefully stripped layers of paint from interior stone arches, while conducting historic paint analysis to restore the color palette that existed at the time of Cram’s last addition in 1929. Lighting in the nave was restored to Cram’s 1923 design, based on historic photographs and a surviving drawing.
The parish also rescued a 1929 E. M. Skinner pipe organ, Opus 708, from a closed church in western Massachusetts. Although the church kept its nave gallery organ, they installed the restored Skinner organ above the chancel. Additionally, the parish created a new, $2 million permanent endowment to support ongoing preservation work, and entered into a preservation restriction agreement with Historic New England to protect and preserve All Saints for future generations.