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A short history of All Saints Parish

map of brookline churches
Map of Brookline 1870

The story of All Saints Parish started 116 years ago when 24 people who lived near Cleveland Circle in Brookline, Mass. believed there should be an Episcopal church in their neighborhood. At that time there were two Episcopal churches located at the other end of Brookline: St. Paul's Church that was built and consecrated in 1852 (I), and Church of Our Saviour, built and consecrated in 1868 (II).

On September 10, 1894 this small group of worshippers wrote a letter to The Rt. Rev. William Lawrence, Bishop of Massachusetts, for permission to build a new church. While they waited for his reply, they started worshipping in, of all places, the Beaconsfield Casino.

Beaconsfield Casino

The Beaconsfield Casino was a one-room building where people could gather to have fun. It had a bowling alley, a dance hall, and pool tables. But it was also a space where the first members of this church could gather for worship. On November 1st, 1894, All Saints' Sunday, Bishop Lawrence led the worship and that day the congregation officially became "All Saints Parish".

Dr. Daniel Addison arrived the following month, and became the first rector of All Saints Parish. He led the congregation for the next 25 years, and oversaw major developments of the church. With Dr. Anderson's help, the congregation find and procure land at the corner of Beacon Street and Dean Road (at 75 cents per sq. ft.) Services continued to be held at the casino until the summer of 1895, while a small wooden church was built on that corner lot.

original building

As the congregation continued to grow, plans for a larger and sturdier church building were made. The congregation approached the architects Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue (of the firm Cram, Wentworth & Goodhue), who porposed the following "perpendicular gothic" design:

The cornerstone of the present building was laid by Bishop Lawrence on November 1, 1898. On All Saints' Day 1899, the first worship service was held in the stone church. Only the nave was built in 1899, without aisle chapels or chancel. Meanwhile, the original wooden church continued to be used as a parish house where meetings, meals and church school classes were held, until 1910 when it was taken down.

The construction of the stone church took many more years to complete, with significant changes from the original design. Several major additions were made including a new Parish House (1910) and the Rectory (1913). Inside the church, the west aisle chapel of the church was built, connecting the nave with the new Parish House. In 1926, the chancel and the resting chapel were added, completing the building interior. Church School classrooms, a kitchen, and dining room were added downstairs. The entire building, free of debt, was consecrated by Bishop Slattery on October 31, 1926.

At the dedication the architects Cram & Ferguson remarked: "All Saints, Brookline, was one of the first churches of large size which was designed by the then firm of Cram, Wentworth and Goodhue, and it is therefore one of the structures which commands the most enduring interest and affection on the part of the successors of that firm. Laid out on the most ambitious and comprehensive lines as the result of the vision and forethought of Dr. Addison, it stood for very long in an incomplete condition, showing little of its architectural possibilities. Slowly additions were made: the West Transept[sic], the Parish House and the Rectory, but the church itself, apart from the first transept[sic], could not develop along the lines originally conceived, until recently, when, once more directed by the same vision and the enthusiasm that had marked Dr. Addison's inception of the project, the work has been continued, and at last the East Transept[sic], and above all the permanent choir, have been brought to a state of completion. In addition, much has been done in the Nave of the church in a way of various details of finish, so that now the interior at least, and in a measure the exterior, reveal in permanent and material form the conception of almost a generation ago. It is not for the architects to express an opinion as to the nature of this new work, or the effect of the completed church, but at least they may say that an early ambition has reached its fulfillment, and their gratification is measurably satisfied."

inside drawing
outside drawing

By the mid-1930's, the All Saints Parish church looked pretty much how it looks today. There have been few structural changes since that time, with the exception of the Beacon Street door. However, windows and furnishings have been constantly added and/or relocated. In the 1950s, the ivy that was growing all over the exterior of the church had to be removed to protect the cement holding the stones together. The roofed entrance at the Beacon Street door was also removed.

All Saints Parish, 1934


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