Resources for Preservation of Religious Properties

For centuries, Boston’s churches, synagogues, chapels, meetinghouses, and parish halls were centers of community life. Today many suffer from decades of deferred maintenance, and old building systems often work poorly and may not meet current safety standards.

Communities have operated these facilities with fair success for decades, despite miniscule budgets, but core materials (mortar and roof flashings, for example) have reached an age when major repairs are needed to provide another 100 years of durability. Many religious property managers feel a responsibility being crushed by the burden and don’t know where to turn; they feel alone.

With this web portal the Alliance hopes to help. Members of building committees, facility managers, and others interested in the care of houses of worship will find useful information here.

Support for this web portal has been generously provided by the Boston Foundation for Architecture. McGinley Kalsow & Associates supplied several of the images.

You can download a zip file (65.1 MB) containing the complete set of Word documents and pdf files, or select each one individually from the list below.

Religious Buildings and Their Care

St. Cecilia Parish Church
Photo: Bruce T. Martin

Gate of Heaven Church, South Boston
Photo: McGinley Kalsow

Vilna Shul, Beacon Hill
Photo: John Phelan

Gate of Heaven Church, South Boston
Photo: HBI, Inc.

The Cathrdral Church of St. Paul, Boston
Photo: Judy Neiswander

Emmanuel Church, Back Bay
Photo: McGinley Kalsow

Serpentino Stained Glass
Photo: Jennifer Barrington

King’s Chapel Burying Ground
Photo: Andrew Malone

First Parish Church, Dorchester
Photo: McGinley Kalsow

Jose Mateo Ballet Theater at Old Cambridge Baptist Church
Photo: Courtesy of Jose Mateo Dance Theatre, Gary Sloan, photographer

Building Assessment

Building Needs Assessment Form | DOC
Credit: Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

Building Conditions Surveys | DOC
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

What Difference a Conditions Survey Makes | DOC
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

From Survey to Scope of Work | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

What Do We Need An Architect For, Anyway | DOC
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Hiring Professionals to Get the Work Done

Hiring Design Professionals to Manage Repair Projects | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Understanding Contracts | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Who Does What: A Guide to Design Professionals in Preservation | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Energy

Reducing Energy Costs in Religious Buildings | DOC
Credit: Interfaith Coalition on Energy

Energy Conservation Program for Boston Churches | DOC
Credit: Historic Boston's Energy Conservation Program for Churches

Utilities Questionnaire | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light

Boilers and Furnaces | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light

Hot Water | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light

Monitoring Utility Use and Cost | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light

HVAC Maintenance Contracts | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light

Energy Supply Options for Massachusetts Non-Profits

Electricity and Natural Gas | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light

Heating Oil | PDF
Credit: Mass Energy Consumer Alliance

Solar Power | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light

Congregational Action | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light

Case Studies

Case Study - St. James Episcopal, Cambridge | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light

Case Study - Charles Street AME, Roxbury | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light

Case Study - Cathedral of St. Paul/Episcopal Diocese Offices | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light

Protecting and Maintaining the Building

Sample Yearly Maintenance Checklist | PDF
Credit: McGinley Kalsow & Associates, Inc.

Creating a Building Facility and Maintenance Archive | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Maintenance Plans | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Lightning Protection | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

See also "A Sample Stained Glass Window Survey" below.

Stained Glass

About American Stained Glass | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Ten Things You Need to Know About Your Stained Glass | DOC
Credit: Drew Anderson, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

National Park Service Technical Bulletin about Stained Glass | PDF
Credit: National Park Service

Questions to Ask Bidders for Stained Glass Restoration | DOC
Credit: Serpentino Stained Glass, Needham

A Sample Stained Glass Window Survey

Survey Descriptive Information | DOC
Credit: First Congregational Church of Reading

Survey Photographs | DOC
Credit: First Congregational Church of Reading

Cemeteries

Basic Monument Cleaning | PDF
Credit: National Park Service

Preserving Historic Cemeteries | PDF
Credit: Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

Funding Strategies

Funding

Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund | LINK

All About the State and National Registers | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

The George B. Henderson Foundation Guidelines and Awards List | LINK

Fundraising Consultants | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Fundraising Principles for Small Congregations | DOC
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Space Utilization

Guide to Utilization of Church Property | PDF
Credit: Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts

Space Sharing – A Creative Solution to Sharing Costs

Shared Space | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Space Sharing from a Pastoral Point of View | DOC
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

Resources

Boston Building Resources Reuse Center | LINK

Habitat for Humanity Restore | LINK

All About the State and National Registers of Historic Places | PDF
Credit: The New York Landmarks Conservancy

On-Line Information for Preserving Religious Properties | LINK

The Boston Preservation Alliance and Its Role

The Boston Preservation Alliance and the Preservation of Religious Properties

The Boston Preservation Alliance has a long and active history of advocacy for houses of worship. Alliance efforts have led to the preservation of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in the South End, the campus of the Mission Church in Mission Hill, the Vilna Shul on Beacon Hill, among many others.

In May of 2003, during a period of contraction for the Catholic Church, the Alliance received an emergency grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission to conduct a community-wide comprehensive survey of buildings associated with the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. The survey, which included churches, rectories, convents, parish halls, schools, and related buildings, allowed the Alliance to determine preservation priorities for the future.

More recently, the Alliance convened an all-day workshop on the preservation of houses of worship at Roxbury Presbyterian Church, in collaboration with the Evangelical Gospel Center, the Black Ministerial Alliance, the Fellowship of Hispanic Pastors of New England (COPHANI), and Historic Boston, Inc. This online resource is one way of making the information from that workshop, and more, available to a wider audience.

The Boston Preservation Alliance

The Advocacy Information Center exists to answer your questions about historic properties in Boston.

Worried about an historic building that might be threatened? Under Regulations, Guidelines, and Forms click on the link to the Boston Landmarks Commission to find out about Demolition Delay and Landmark petitions.

Curious about what your street looked like 100 years ago? Check out Maps under "Resources by Document Type."

Wondering whether the architecture of your house is "Queen Anne" or "Gothic Revival"? Explore the Architectural Style Guide.

Use, peruse, and browse the AIC to your heart's content. It's all here for you.

Questions? Give us a call at 617 367-2458. We're here to help.