70 DESIGNNEWENGLAND.COM NOVEMBER/DECEMBER2015
All Saints Be Praised
The restoration of a historic Dorchester, Massachusetts, church is a tribute to its original architect’s grace and vision
written by william morgan • photographed by peter vanderwarker
Can a beloved 130-year-old church be restored without spoiling its well-worn patina? The renovation of the Parish of All Saints church in the Dorchester neigh- borhood of Boston is evidence that sensitive steward- ship can recapture the original intent without any spe- cious historicism.
“We were determined to make this once-in-a-hundred-year project the best, both structurally and aesthetically,” says Jeffrey Gonyeau,
historic preservation adviser for the project and manager of its capital
campaign, as well as a tenor in the church choir. Despite the complications of compliance with accessibility standards and buildings codes,
none of the history of Anglican All Saints has been erased. Moreover,
the restoration “has enhanced our facilities,” says the Rev. Michael J.
Godderz, “in ways that allow the parish to more effectively serve our
The first religious work by one of America’s great architects, Ralph
Adams Cram (born in Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, in 1863), this
1892 house of worship is more than just another Gothic Revival monument. In his comprehensive historic-structure report, John G. Waite of
John G. Waite Associates, Architects, in Albany, New York, wrote, “All
Saints is architecturally one of the most significant religious buildings
of its period.” Waite’s firm was selected to undertake the restoration.
To their credit, Waite says, the current stewards of the church “
understood the importance of working from solid research.” His partner, Clay
S. Palazzo, adds, “We wanted to know what Cram did, not what people thought Cram did.”
the restoration of the Parish of All Saints church included re-creating the
historical interior palette. The stone arches were stripped of paint, the stained glass
windows were repaired, and the woodwork renewed. A rood (crucifix), which was
unknown in American churches at the time, separates the nave from the chancel.
JOHN G. WAI TE ASSOCIATES, ARCHITECTS