Blessed Sacrament Campus History

THSTF Church#1he Church of the Blessed Sacrament, in operation under the Boston Catholic Archdiocese from 1917 until 2004, was a campus church and the daughter of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Mission Church. The building was dedicated in the midst of WWI on June 11, 1917, at a ceremony attended by two thousand people including then Mayor James Michael Curley. The parish had begun operation in 1892 on the same land in a smaller chapel building, serving the mostly German Catholics of the growing brewery, factory, and railroad working-class community between Centre and Heath Streets.

Fr. Connolly (elevated to Monsignor in 1927) wanted a great and beautiful church. To accommodate this request, Charles R. Greco (1892–1963) designed Blessed Sacrament in a Latin cross plan with an octagonal belvedere dome ninety feet high, which has since been a landmark in Jamaica Plain. The church was built at a cost of $115,000 and took three years to raise. The building is approximately a half acre in size and is distinguished by one of the greatest church facades in Boston, which includes an entrance porch of two monumental Ionic columns sixty feet high supporting a pedimented attic. Fifteen magnificent stained-glass windows were designed and made by the Boston master glass artisan Charles Connick. The two largest windows were twenty-eight feet high and twelve feet wide and a gorgeous rosette stained glass window was set under the pediment.

The cornerstone was laid in a ceremony presided over by Cardinal William O’Connell on September 28, 1913, and the first mass was said in June 1917. Greco later copied the plan for St. Matthew’s Church outside Codman Square in Dorchester in 1923.

In 1983 Edward Gordon wrote Blessed Sacrament is “a superb example of early 20th century Italian Renaissance Revival ecclesiastical architecture . . . the finest in Boston” on an inventory form for the Boston Landmarks Commission.

The church was the final building to be completed on the campus. The three-story Colonial Revival rectory was built 1894, a primary school was added in 1898, a convent in 1896, the Cheverus School in 1901, and St. Norbert School in 1926. Rev. Arthur T. Connolly (1853–1933) the founding pastor, served until 1931.

–Written by and provided courtesy of Richard Heath

From the 1950s-2000s, waves of immigrants from the Caribbean Islands and Latin America flocked to Jamaica Plain, and by the 2000s the parish was 90% Latino.

In 2004 the Boston Catholic Archdiocese closed Blessed Sacrament and in 2005 put the entire campus up for sale.

A large community-organizing campaign in 2005 and 2006, led in part by Hyde Square Task Force youth, produced a plan that represented the community’s vision for the Campus. This mobilization convinced the Archdiocese to keep the campus for mixed income housing, community/educational space, and retail/commercial space.

Sixteen units of moderate-income townhouses, 36 low- and moderate-income rental apartments, and 28 single rooms for formerly homeless men and women were developed. Also, there are several new storefront businesses on the Centre Street side of the campus, and twenty-one units of market-rate lofts have come on line in the former Norbert School Building.

In addition, in 2010 Hyde Square Task Force purchased the Cheverus School to act as a home base for our youth programs. Today, the Youth Community Development Center (YCDC) houses 15 full- and part-time staff and is filled with 500-plus youth each week who participate in dance and music programs, computer lab work, college prep, and programs in four multi-use classrooms. As a direct result of this expanded program space, HSTF has doubled the number of young people served to more than 1,000 and added various new partnerships. To learn more about renovations go here.

2012 was a pivotal year for the Hyde/Jackson neighborhood when Hyde Square Task Force board, youth, staff, residents, and neighbors, took an active role alongside other neighborhood organizations, and merchants to secure the Blessed Sacrament Church on Centre Street for much needed community uses.  During that period, HSTF worked in partnership with others to ensure that residents’ voices were heard and their vision for the community was respected.

In 2013, a plan for converting the Church into 34 luxury condos was met with opposition that included HSTF youth, board, staff, local merchants and residents. In order to secure the building for community use, on February 28, 2014, Hyde Square Task Force purchased the Blessed Sacrament Church building with a vision of creating an arts and civic center in Boston Latin Quarter.