St. Matthews / Stanton Street
AREA FORM from Boston Landmarks Commission prepared as part of 1994 Survey of Dorchester. Dated May, 1995 and recorded by Edward W. Gordon.
[Note: this reproduction of the information in the Boston Landmarks Area Form may have typographical errors, and for technical matters, the reader may want to consult a copy of the original, which is available at the Boston Landmarks Commission or the Dorchester Historical Society]
For a pdf version of the map showing the boundaries of St. Matthews/Stanton Street, Click here
The boundaries of the St. Matthew's / Stanton Street Area have been drawn primarily to focus on the architecturally significant buildings of St. Matthew's Roman Catholic Church complex at Norfolk and Stanton Streets in west central Dorchester. This small area encompasses the church buildings bordering the west side of Stanton Street from #11 to 51/53 as well as residential properties at #240 / 238 Norfolk Street and housing along the north side of Norfolk Street from # 207 to 229.
The church complex is situated within a densely built up residential area that appears to be primarily a product of turn of the century development. The east side of Stanton Street is not included within the boundaries of this area because of the considerable modernizations to its housing. The west side of Stanton Street is characterized by a progression of masonry church buildings including the Late Gothic Revival Church of the Epiphany (11 Stanton Street), the Georgian Revival St. Matthew's R.C. School (29 Stanton Street), the Renaissance/Georgian Revival St. Matthews Rectory (33 Stanton Street), the Renaissance Revival St. Matthew's R.C. Church (39 Stanton Street), and the Georgian Revival St. Matthew's Cloister (45 Stanton Street). Also included within this area on the west side of Stanton Street is a substantial Italianate/Mansard house at 51/53 Stanton Street (2.5 story L-shaped wood frame house with encircling verandah at the northeast corner and a bell cast mansard roof). This area also includes the unusual, U-shaped Italianate /Mansard house at 238/240 Norfolk Street. This double house, with its entrances at either end of main fa?ade, is distinguished by shouldered window surrounds and a center gable which projects from the mansard roof. The center gable contains a lunette window. Asphalt shingles cover the original clapboards. The roof?s slate shingles are intact.
The north side of Norfolk Street has discernable architectural merit in terms of form and stylistic elements. Reading east to west, this housing includes the H-shaped, Craftsman style apartments at 207 Norfolk Street; the cottage scale, L-shaped vinyl-sided Italianate/Mansard cottage at 209 Norfolk Street, the greatly altered Queen Anne house at 215 Norfolk Street, the frame Italianate/Stick house at 217 Norfolk Street (projecting center pavilion, barge boards with incised decorative detail), the 3-story, Queen Anne/Colonial Revival multi-family housing at 225-227 Norfolk Street (flat entrance bays flanked by paired octagonal bays, well molded cornice) and the burned out shell of the Italianate/Mansard at 229 Norfolk Street which retains its T -shaped form, front and side porches, distinctive dormer enframements and hip on mansard roof with remarkably intact, polychromatic slate shingles.
St . Matthew's Roman Catholic Church at 39 Stanton Street was completed in 1926 from designs provided by the architect Charles Greco; he was also responsible for the design of St. Matthew's cloister and rectory. The church itself is a fine example of the Italian Renaissance Revival style. Constructed of red brick with cast stone trimmings, the church stands with gable end to Stanton Street and is essentially composed of a long, 2-story rectangular nave which culminates in a gracefully curved western apse. The nave is flanked by narrow, one story components which abut the northern and southern walls. The imposing main facade has a decidedly vertical emphasis with a center entrance flanked by broad and monumental Doric pilasters which rise two stories to the return eaves of the gable roof. The center entrance is flanked by pairs of stone Corinthian pilasters which exhibit low relief floral motifs. Ornamental banding above this entrance exhibits well executed low relief swag and urn motifs. Surmounting this banding is a dentiled entablature which, in turn, is surmounted by a blind loggia composed of small Corinthian pilasters which flank a series of arches. This "loggia" entablature exhibits carved swag motifs. The entrance bay culminates in a large ocular window with ornate, carved stonework detail and stained glass. The entire entrance bay is set within a great arch composed of stepped brick work. The main facade's gable is treated as a broken pediment with dentils and modillion blocks. Secondary entrances flank the main facade and are simply enframed by well molded stone surrounds. Above these entrances are ornamental panels containing low relief swags. The side walls of the church are pierced by arched windows.
On the north side of the church is the L-shaped St. Matthew's Rectory at 33 Stanton Street which possesses a 3-story, 5-bay x 5-bay main block with highly symmetrical red brick and white cast stone trimmed windows. This building is linked to the church by a low, one story brick structure with arched bays. The rectory blends Renaissance Revival entrance bay treatments with Georgian Revival trimmings and a low hip roof whose exposed rafters nod to the Craftsman style.
On the south side of the church is St. Matthew's Cloister or convent at 45 Stanton Street which is composed of a three story main block and two- and one-story lateral ells. Both the main block and side ells are surmounted by low hip roofs. St. Matthew's Cloister, like the rectory, is constructed of red brick with cast stone trimmings. Its form and elements lean more towards the Georgian than the Renaissance Revival, with its main block's massing and fenestration reminiscent of English, late 18th century Georgian estates.
The front door is flanked by Doric pilasters and surmounted by a segmental headed lintel, windows exhibit gauged brick work lintels with cast stone key stones, tall arched and key stone-topped windows grace the main facade of the side ell and a simple cast stone string course runs between the first and second floors.
The three St. Matthew's buildings listed above: church, rectory and cloister/convent form a visually memorable ensemble that undoubtedly represents the apex of Charles Greco's career as a designer of churches and public buildings during the first half of the 20th century. Somewhat less architecturally distinguished but nevertheless an important component within this collection of ecclesiastical buildings is St. Matthew's Roman Catholic School at 29 Stanton Street. Eschewing the red brick materials favored by Greco for the church, rectory and convent, this school is constructed of tan brick with cast stone trimmings. Its essential boxy form is relieved by its main facade's center recessed entrance bay and side walls' projecting center pavilions. This school may be classified as a restrained example of the Renaissance/ Georgian Revival style.
Finally, the Church of the Epiphany at the northwest corner of Stanton and Norfolk Streets (#11 Stanton Street) was built in 1914 in the Late Gothic Revival style from designs provided by Frank Bourne. This church is of interest as an ecclesiastical edifice composed almost entirely of concrete blocks. Essentially L-shaped in form, it stands with narrow end wall gable facing Norfolk Street. Here, its main entrance is reached via a flight of concrete steps with solid shoulder railings of the same material. Its main entrance retains its original wooden Gothicized double doors which are set within a deep pointed arch. Flanking the front door are small and narrow lancet windows. Above the front door is a large, pointed arch window with a transparent outer (plexiglass) protective covering with what appears to be stained glass and wooden tracery underneath. In general, this church's walls are pierced by pointed arch windows.
The segment of the St. Matthew's / Stanton Street area containing the Church of the Epiphany and St Matthew's complex was part of the Samuel N. and Mary Ufford (presumably farm) estate from the 1860s until the 1910s. The oldest road in the area is Norfolk Street which since at least the late 18th century has linked Mattapan with Codman Square. By 1850, farms belonging to the Bacon (north side of Norfolk Street) and Stone (south side of Norfolk Street) families were located in this area. By 1869, Mary Ufford owned 8 acres and a Samuel N. Ufford owned two houses and "other buildings" around the area currently containing Stanton Street. From c.1874 until the early 1900s a Hezekiah G. Ufford owned this land in addition to Mary Ufford, along with the double Italianate/Mansard house at 238 / 240 Norfolk Street which was extant by 1874.
During the first quarter of the 20th century, two churches were built in this area. The Mission of the Epiphany Protestant Episcopal Church was organized in 1906 and built at 11 Stanton Street from 1914 designs provided by Frank Bourne. Among Bourne's best known works was Charles River Square, the charming cul de sac off Storrow Drive lined with Neo Federal town houses. Douglas Shand Tucci notes in Built in Boston that ?Frank Bourne was a pioneer in the use of concrete in the construction of a variety of building types. Boston's few concrete block churches (stylistically Gothic) were an innovation pioneered by Frank Bourne.? At the present time the church appears to be underutilized or not at all in use.
St. Matthew's Roman Catholic Church was set off from St. Gregory?s Parish in 1900. From 1900-1910, the congregation worshipped in a chapel at 89 Norfolk Street. Ground was broken for St. Matthews Church in 1910. St. Matthews was built in two stages in what may have been a fairly standard approach to church building in Boston around the turn of the century. The lower church was completed for worship services during the 1910s and the upper church was finished by 1926. The church was designed by Charles Greco who was active as an architect in the Boston area during the first half of the 20th century. He was responsible for several other Boston area churches whose design was derived from Renaissance rather than Gothic sources including the design of Blessed Sacrament Churches in Jamaica Plain (South Street, 1910-17) and Cambridgeport (Pearl and McTernan Streets, 1907). Additionally he designed the Roberts School at: Broadway and Windsor Streets in Cambridge (1929) and a building for the Middlesex County Court House complex (1930s) in East Cambridge. Greco was also responsible for the design of St. Matthews Rectory (33 Stanton Street), completed by 1910, and St. Matthews "cloister" or convent which was built during the 1910s, again from designs provided by Greco.
Further research is needed on the development of the housing in this area. The Italianate (hip-on-) Mansard house at 51/53 Stanton Street was built between 1875 and 1883. Around the turn of the century, Lydia B. and Martin Wyman owned this property. 51/53 Stanton Street, along with Italianate / Mansards at 209 Norfolk Street, and 229 Norfolk Street provide evidence of house construction activities in the area around 1870. The multi family at 225/227 Norfolk Street is representative of the kind of multi family housing erected in Dorchester working class neighborhoods around the turn of the century, providing evidence of a c.1895-1910 building boom that triggered the further subdivision of parishes and construction of new churches like St. Matthew's and The Mission Church of the Epiphany.
Statement of Significance
St. Matthew?s/Stanton Street
Qualifies as an architecturally/historically significant complex of early 20th century ecclesiastical buildings bordering Stanton Street along with a half a dozen residential structures at 240/238 and 207 to 229 Norfolk Street. The St. Matthew's Roman Catholic Church complex is situated within a densely built-up residential area that appears to be primarily a product of turn of the century development. The east side of Stanton Street is not included within the boundaries of this area because of the considerable alterations to its housing. The west side of Stanton Street is characterized by a progression of masonry church buildings including the Frank Bourne-designed Late Gothic Revival, concrete block-constructed Church of the Epiphany (1914, 11 Stanton Street), the Georgian Revival St. Matthew's R.C. School (29 Stanton Street), the Renaissance/Georgian Revival St. Matthew?s Rectory (33 Stanton Street ), the Charles Greco-designed Renaissance Revival St. Matthew's R.C. Church (39 Stanton Street), and the Georgian Revival St. Matthew's Cloister (45 Stanton Street). Also included within this area on the west side of Stanton Street is a substantial Italianate/Mansard house at 51/53 Stanton Street (2.5 story L-shaped wood frame house with encircling verandah at the northeast corner and a bell cast mansard roof). This area satisfies criteria A and C of the National Register of Historic Places. St. Mathew's/ Stanton Street is also recommended as an architectural conservation district.
Bibliography and/or References
Dorchester Maps/Atlases-1830, 1850, 1874, 1884, 1894, 1898, 1910, 1910, 1933
Tucci, Douglass Shand, The Gothic Churches of Dorchester
T'ucci, Douglas Shand, Built in Boston. City and Suburbs, 1978
Taxable Valuation of the Town of Dorchester. 1869
From: Frederick Van Veen January 4, 2007
Re: Overview: Landmarks Description St. Matthews/Stanton Street
I graduated from St. Matthew's School in 1943 and have a photo of the graduating class, with Father Reynolds. It was a fine school, staffed by devoted Sisters of St. Joseph's. I served as an altar boy at St. Matthew's and have many happy memories of my days there.
From: Claire Kotas October 2007
I attended St. Matthew's "little school" on the corner of Norfolk and Darlington Streets from Grade 1-4, then up to the "big school" on Stanton St., graduating in 1959. My sister and brothers graduated before me. The pastor was Msgr. Waldo Hasenfus and Fr. McQuaid was the associate. Of course, the good Sisters of St. Joseph taught there then. Great memories!
From: Belinda Clanton
I attended St. Matthew?s from the 6th grade to the 8th grade. September 1975 to May 1978. I was an African American Protestant/Baptist in a sea of Irish Catholics. I was very nervous in the beginning but made some life long friends in those short three years. They had no lunch room so we had to walk from home to Stanton Street, home for lunch and back again. Father Kenneally was there when I first arrived and was shortly replaced by Father Hannon who is in my 8th grade class picture. The Sister?s of St. Joseph were strict but fair. Enrollment was decreasing and that?s why they began letting in non-Catholics. But they wouldn't take just anyone, my parents had to prove we were practicing Christians by supplying their church membership and my baptismal records. I grew up on Darlington Street where at the corner of the Norfolk side the old St. Matthew?s building was used for Christmas Bazaars and other Functions. They later sold the Darlington/Norfolk Street building to the Mason?s who every spring did their hazing in the field behind the building adjacent to the John Greenleaf Whittier School where I also attend from K1 to 1st grade, September 1969 to June 1971.
Belinda Clanton February 2008
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Created: July 18, 2005 Modified: March 14, 2012