All Saints Ashmont

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Dorchester, MA

Client: All Saints Ashmont

Project Type: Restoration; Historic Structure Report; New Construction

The Church of All Saints, Ashmont, in Dorchester, MA, designed in 1892, was the first major ecclesiastical work of the then relatively unknown architect Ralph Adams Cram (1863-1942). Now regarded as one of Cram’s best designs, All Saints became the prototype for early 20th century, American Gothic Revival architecture and a treasure house of ecclesiastical decoration, stained glass, furnishing, sculpture, painting and metalwork. Over the years, as the demographics of the inner-city neighborhood charged, the parish adapted its programs to meet these changes. Its music program continues to be a source of strength for the parish in a changing neighborhood.

By 2009, the building complex was in need of major repair and renewal after 120 years of use. The Parish commissioned JGWA to prepare a historic structure report to establish the significance and integrity of All Saints and identify the work required to ensure its future preservation and usefulness. Using the historic structure report as a guide, the Parish launched a comprehensive $16 million campaign to preserve the buildings and to restore Cram’s original vision while making the complex completely accessible so that it can continue to be the center of the spiritual life of an active and diverse urban parish.

JGWA supervised the full exterior and interior restoration and designed a small addition to accommodate a new elevator and an accessible entry to the Parish Hall. The slate and sheet metal roofing was replaced; the Quincy granite facade repointed; and all stained glass windows restored. This phase also included new building systems. The church houses one of the finest collections of Gothic Revival church art in the country, and the work provides a comfortable environment for the congregation and the church and community choral groups that regularly use the building.