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This blog is a place for dialogue on issues and actions relating to Boston's unique built environment and the preservation and continuing evolution of historic resources within it. My goal, as the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, is to post timely, relevant and thought-provoking intelligence, ideas, and insights that will engage conversations, inform our actions, and broaden perspectives on preservation.

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Greg Galer, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance

Executive Director

AllianceViews Blog

St. Cecilia’s Shines Again

August 8th, 2012  |  Posted by: Boston Preservation Alliance

Photo credit: Bruce T. Martin Photography

In the late 19th century, the Back Bay was quite the hoity-toity place. It was the premier residential neighborhood of the Yankee aristocracy. But also populating the neighborhood were hundreds of working class maids and coachmen who served the wealthy residents of the neighborhood. St. Cecilia Parish, located in the Back Bay at 18 Belivdere Street in Boston, was established in 1888 to serve this less affluent population.

The Romanesque, 12th Century Norman church was dedicated in 1894, and featured a main altar carved from a single marble block.  In 1954 a lavish reproduction of da Vinci’s “Last Supper” was added.  While the church has undergone various renovations over the years, the work done in the past calendar year has gone great lengths to restoring the property to its prior glory. Shawmut Design and Construction, working with Architect Donham and Sweeney Inc, installed a new two story glass and steel addition at the site of the demolished Parish House. Other additions included new slate roofing and masonry repointing of 80% of the façade, as well as a restoration and cleaning of the original ceiling and stained glass windows.

Amazingly, the church remained open during the ten month long construction period, and now members of the parish and the general public from all walks of life have the opportunity to enjoy St. Cecilia’s in its original glory.

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2 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Just a correction: The “Last Supper” reproduction was not original to the church, but was added in the 1954 renovation. Also, Saint Cecilia is NOT a cathedral. There is ONE cathedral in the Archdiocese of Boston and that is the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on Washington Street. The cathedral in a diocese or archdiocese is the seat of the bishop or archbishop. Saint Cecilia is absolutely NOT a cathedral.

  2. Paula says:

    I love these two like CRAZY!!!!! These pictures rlleay show what they mean to each other. Bryan, you took some amazing pictures and I’m so happy that Heather & Tim found you to photograph this important time in their lives.

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