THE IMMACULATE PARISH CHURCH HISTORY
This is the history of the building of the Immaculate Parish Facilities. For information on some of the magnificent artwork, including our stained glass windows,click here.
In 1869 the Oblates purchased some property close to St John’s Hospital. More land was purchased in 1871 from the Massachusetts Cotton Mills. Now that the Oblates had acquired sufficient property, the building of a new and larger church could proceed. Excavation for the new Immaculate Conception Church began in April, 1871. Bishop Williams blessed the cornerstone of the new basement church on November 30, 1871. By the summer of 1872, the crypt was completed and then blessed by the bishop of Boston on July 7th. The cost of the lower church was $45,000 and it was debt free at the time of the blessing. It had a seating capacity of 1,900.
With the completion of the lower church, work on the upper church was able to begin. On June 2, 1877, five years after the crypt was finished, the newly-constructed upper church was open for services; and on June 10th Archbishop Williams of Boston dedicated it.
The church is of granite and is modern Gothic and cruciform in style. It is 191 feet in length and 109 feet wide, with a seating capacity at the time of 2,000. The day following the dedication of the new church, the Lowell Times gave the occasion considerable coverage. The closing paragraph read as follows:
The Oblate Fathers…have made a number of friends in the city of Lowell. The courage and energy with which they have undertaken and completed the erection of one of the most beautiful churches in the country, merits the loudest of praise.
Some years later, His Eminence, William Cardinal O’Connell, Archbishop of Boston, described the Immaculate Conception Church as “an illustration of art, poetry, architecture, and music all combined.”
Another important event during the early days of the parish was the purchase in 1892 of a large piece of land in front of the church. This area was laid out as a kind of park and became one of the show places of the city of Lowell.
During the 1940s and 1950s a major renovation of the church took place. In 1947 a beautiful new marble altar and canopy donated in memory of Mrs. Joseph E Sullivan was dedicated by Archbishop Cushing. In 1948 a Liberty Carillon was installed and dedicated in memory of those parishioners of the Immaculate who died in World War II.
By 1954 all the stained glass windows in the church had been replaced by new ones and Cardinal Cushing returned to the Immaculate Conception to solemnly bless them.
In 1976 the crypt of our Immaculate Conception Church was divided into a chapel comprising approximately one-third of the original workarea of the lower Church. The lovely chapel seats about 500. This is quite adequate for the numbers using it for daily Mass and up to the 1990s for the Spanish-speaking community using it on Sundays.
When the lower church was divided into a small chapel in 1976, plans were made to use the remaining area for a youth center. This became a reality in June 1979, when the new center was completed. In addition to the youth center, a large parish meeting room was provided for in the lower church.
The present rectory and our previous convent were built during the pastorate of Father William Joyce, OMI. Father Joyce served as pastor from 1887 to 1901.
The most recent restoration work has been completed, words cannot express how beautiful the upstairs church looks, sounds, and feels. Here and here are articles from the Lowell Sun outlining what was done.