by Matt Guarracino
Boston’s architecture is a robust blend of old and new styles, from the majestic symmetry of South Station to the crystalline exterior of Millennium Tower. As part of the city’s development resurgence, more companies are establishing a corporate presence in neighborhoods like the Seaport District, remaking the regional skyline.
At the same time, many in Boston remain steadfast in their efforts to protect and celebrate beautiful structures. While employers update huge parcels within the city limits, and new, cutting-edge residential and retail developments pop up, it is critical these contemporary structures be offset by a movement to preserve the city’s rich history, including its many religious symbols.
Maintenance of a historic structure should include the preservation of significant interior and exterior spaces. In the case of churches, these buildings often feature intricate character details such as stained glass, carvings, murals, altars and choir lofts.
It has been a privilege to work on so many notable Boston area landmarks, particularly as working in historic churches demands a high level of expertise to ensure the preservation or restoration of the structure and the comfort of its visitors and parishioners to enable year-round use. In addition, much of the interior work we have supported has maximized energy efficiency and reduced energy costs.
Here are some of our favorite Boston area church projects we have contributed to:
- Leonard’s Church: In the heart of Boston’s North End sits one of the oldest churches in the U.S. built by Italian immigrants. St. Leonard’s is a picturesque, historic Roman Catholic cathedral with beautiful details and lighting. Our work on the renovation included a complete lighting, fire alarm and power upgrade, in addition to the restoration of an historic fixture.
- Harvard Memorial Church: In 2017, we completed project operations at Harvard Memorial Church, a historic house of worship located in the center of Harvard Yard in Cambridge. We installed the HVAC control system for the upper and lower levels of the church and utilized wireless technology due to the complexities of the facility. All of the work was done while maintaining the architectural integrity of the building, initially constructed in 1932 as a gift from Harvard alumni to honor the memory of those who died in World War I.
- First Church: First Church in Boston is a Unitarian Universalist Church founded in 1630 by John Winthrop’s original Puritan settlement. The current iteration of the building located at 66 Marlborough Street dates from 1867. Designed by Boston architects William Robert Ware and Henry Van Brunt, First Church’s façade was inspired by the English country church aesthetic from the Middle Ages. Over the years, we e have continued to support upgrades for the DDC Control system in this church.
- Ann’s in Quincy: This Wollaston Catholic Church is nice example of the 20th Century Gothic Revival. The Temperature Control System in the newly renovated lower church hall was recently updated and a new Fire Alarm system was installed as well.
In addition to the historic churches described above, another area landmark, the Vilna Shul in Boston’s West End, is currently undergoing its own major renovation and HVAC upgrade.
Protecting the integrity of historic houses of worship remains a priority for JME and we are proud of our contributions to many of these beautiful structures.
Matthew Guarracino is a principal at JM Electrical