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Dorchester Illustration of the Day, July 20, 2009
St. Ambrose' Church
Click image for more information
 Dorchester Illustration of the Day no. 1107

St. Ambrose Church burned in January, 1984. Today we have a photo of the building from 1929 and another from 2009.

From Anthony Sammarco?s walking tour of Field?s Corner: The church was completed in 1921 and the Rectory in 1929, and both were designed by the noted Boston architect William H. McGinty, who is said to have been a resident of Percival Street, the original St. Ambrose Church was an impressive twin-towered church, which was unfortunately destroyed by fire. A red brick school was built in 1936 and a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1942. After the fire in January, 1984, the present church building of red brick and granite was built in the English Gothic style with a central tower surmounted by pinnacles. Many of the present stained glass windows utilized much of the glass salvaged from the partially-destroyed windows, which came from Munich and which depicted famous windows in cathedrals throughout Europe. Once an institution serving primarily Irish immigrants and their descendants, the parish and school are today a multi-faceted representation of the community. St Ambrose Parochial School was built in 1936 behind the Rectory on Leonard Street.

From volume 5 of Metropolitan Boston: A Modern History. New York, 1929: Among the most beautiful churches of the Boston Diocese is St. Ambrose? Church of Fields Corner, Dorchester, Massachusetts, which was built and furnished under the direction of Rev. John H. Harrigan in 1915. The history of the parish and of Father Harrigan?s service here run parallel, for St. Ambrose has known no other pastor than its present able and devoted one, and the thriving condition of its affairs is due to Father Harriagn and to his many faithful parishioners who have given to him whole-souled cooperation and support.

In 1914 there were no church buildings in this district, neither was there a parish organization. In that year Father Harrigan organized the parish and gave it the name of St. Ambrose, to whom the soon-to-be erected church building was to be dedicated. He then promptly set about the task of building a place of worship, and by November, 1915, the lower church was completed and ready for occupancy. There the congregation assembled and there all church services were held until the growth of the parish warranted the building of the upper church, which was begun in 1920 and finished in February, 1921, when it was blessed by His Eminence Cardinal O?Connell. The church is in English Gothic Style, built of brick with granite trimmings, and, as has already been stated, is one of the most beautiful in the diocese. The lower church, which seats twelve hundred people, is fitted with a large central altar and two smaller ones, and has a choir loft which provides for about fifty singers. The upper church, which seats fourteen hundred people, is entered by three beautiful doors in each of which are set six stained glass panels. The center aisle leads to one of the most beautiful altars to be found anywhere in this country. Designed by the famous Carrara, of Italy, and executed by the most skilled artisans in this highly specialized field, this altar, of carefully selected Italian marble, is one of rare grace and beauty and is greatly admired by every casual visitor, as well as by the parishioners of St. Ambrose. Over the altar is a wonderful window in stained glass, representing the Last Supper, while on the left and right, respectively, are handsome windows, twelve by fifteen feet, representing the birth of Christ and the Resurrection. On each side of the church are five stained glass windows, one of which, representing Christ blessing little children, was given by the Holy Name Society, while another was presented by the St. Ambrose Society, and still another portrays Christ preaching to the elders in the temple. In the rear of the church over the choir loft is a large stained glass window of especially beautiful design, the lower part showing five panels and the upper part, in circular form, composed of twelve distinct parts, representing the life of St. Ambrose. All of these windows were made in Munich, Bavaria, and are of the finest design and workmanship, equaling if not surpassing any to be found in this country. Around the walls of the church are fourteen stations of the cross executed in Munich. The choir loft of the upper church provides seating for about one hundred and fifty singers, and contains an organ made by Hook & Hastings, of Waltham, one of the best builders of church organs in the country.


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Created: July 20, 2009   Modified: July 20, 2009