Grace Episcopal Church, New Bedford, Massachusetts

Incorporated in 1834, the establishment of Grace Episcopal Church was met with distrust and suspicion due to the association of the Tories with the Episcopal church in post-Revolutionary War New Bedford. With courage and determination, the Grace Church persevered and its parish grew due to the changing economy within New Bedford, as manufacturing slowly replaced the whaling industry in the 19th century drawing more Episcopalians to the community. Built in 1881, the church’s current structure was designed in the High Victorian Gothic style by the architects Ware and Van Brunt of Boston. In 1987, a fire was set, which destroyed the interior of the church. Shortly afterwards, Grace Church adopted the Phoenix as a symbol of its rebirth when it undertook the four years of rebuilding. Perhaps the Phoenix may also serve as a testament to the church’s ability to persevere despite adversities since its first days serving the New Bedford community.

St. Joseph the Worker Shrine, Lowell, Massachusetts

With roots dating back to 1868, St. Joseph the Worker Shrine, which opened in 1956, was originally established to serve the spiritual needs of Lowell’s French Canadian working class population. A focal point within the interior is the St. Joseph Stained Glass Window series, which celebrates in-part, Jesus’s legal father, the patron saint of workers. Stained glass panels also found within the sanctuary acknowledge the various trades and professions that have contributed to the development of Lowell. Originally built for the Unitarian Society in 1850, the church’s structure has gone through a series of transformations to accommodate up to 550 worshippers at a given time. Today, the church seeks to be a haven for all.

The First Church, Nashua, New Hampshire

Gathered in 1685 with Thomas Weld as minister, The First Church was first known as The Church of Christ in Dunstable. It is the fifth oldest church in New Hamphsire. First Church’s current Romanesque-style structure, built in 1894, is the congregtion’s 10th building, which is constructed of granite from nearby quarries in Marlboro, New Hampshire. An approachable statement on the church bulletin proclaims, “No matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here”—affirming the church’s mission to welcome, unite and serve.

Transfiguration of Our Saviour Greek Orthodox Church, Lowell, Massachusetts

The Transfiguration of Our Saviour Greek Orthodox Church was founded in 1924 to serve the liturgical needs of the growing Greek immigrant population in Lowell, a thriving mill town. It’s current structure was completed in 1956 through the generosity of 200 families. Nevertheless, it would be another thirty-six years for the interior to be complete with its beautiful mosaic iconography that includes both male and female saints by New England artist Robert J. Andrews who began the project in 1963. The interior is considered one of Andrews’s masterworks.

First Parish Church Congregational, Dover, New Hampshire


Founded in 1633, First Parish Church is the oldest congregation in the state of New Hampshire. The church’s fifth home, is a Federal style brick structure, with steeple modeled after that of The First Religious Society of Newburyport, Massachusetts, was designed and built by Captain James Davis in 1829. The interior has undergone extensive changes since the building’s construction, the first in 1878 when the organ was moved to the front of the sanctuary, the box-style pews were removed, and the current arced slip pews were installed. In 1945, the side galleries were removed, a colonial-style chancel area built, and the pews and walls painted white. The exterior has undergone few changes since its construction. Donald Bryant, the author of The History of the First Parish Church, wrote that with all of the significant changes to the city of Dover since the church’s founding, “no buildings and no institutions [remain] except the First Parish Church. In the fabric of Dover’s history it continues as the single living thread that runs from the beginning to the present and will run unbroken into the future.”

St. Anthony of Padua Church, New Bedford, Massachusetts

Founded in 1895, the St. Anthony of Padua Church was established to serve the needs of the growing French Canadian Catholic population in New Bedford. Its current structure, a Romanesque style church designed by Canadian architect Joseph Venne, was dedicated in 1912 after a ten-year construction period. Much of the church’s elaborate interior was done under the direction of Italian sculptor John Castagnoli, who was a resident of New Bedford. In 1952, a significant renovation was completed on the church’s interior under the guidance of Italian architect and artist Guido Nincheri, replacing the original pulpit, adding stained glass windows and paintings of each of the four evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Four times a year, the 5,000 light bulbs set in the arches and ceiling illuminate the beautifully ornate interior.

Conanicut Friends Meetinghouse, Jamestown, Rhode Island

The Conanicut Friends Meeting was established in 1684 due to the growing Quaker population in Jamestown. Built in 1786, the simple rectangular shingled meetinghouse was constructed after the original one was destroyed by the British in 1776. According to traditional practice, the Quakers worship in silence together. Though there may be elders in the facing benches to manage the service, there is no preacher, as members reach for “that of God” within them individually and only speak when they have something to share with the others. The meetinghouse provides physical remnants of past practices with its two separate entrances and two hinged wide-board partitions that could be lowered so that men and women would have the ability to have separate business meetings. In all of its simplicity, the intentionally plain and purposeful building acts as a testament to the philosophy and principles of the Quakers.

St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Newcastle, Maine

Dedicated in 1883, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church is the first example of a cottage Gothic Revival style church in the United States. Designed by architect Henry Vaughan, the wood framed building is protected by a wooden shingle gabled roof and its exterior walls finished with half-timbered stucco, reminiscent of 15th century English architecture. The intricate stencil work found throughout the sanctuary, which was devised by Henry Vaughan and lovingly completed by his own hand, adorns the interior’s color scheme of primarily olive green and maroon and complements the fine stained woodwork throughout. The kneeling cushions, made by members and friends of the parish, and the numerous memorial plaques given in memory of many of its founders contribute to the sanctuary’s beauty. Tender details such as these found throughout St. Andrew’s reflect in-part the church’s mission to be a “Christ-centered, worshipping community of mutual concern and outreach, vivified by the breath of God, and living lives of gratitude and forgiveness.”

Finnish Congregational Church, South Thomaston, Maine

The Finnish Congregational Church was formally organized in 1921 in response to an influx of Finnish immigrants to the area between 1900 and 1920. The congregation’s building, built in the same year, is considered to be the first religious structure constructed by the Finnish community within Knox County. Built with salvaged materials, the primarily clapboard vernacular style structure with a tower and gable roof houses a charming and modest sanctuary finished throughout in tongue-and-groove paneling with a dining area and kitchen below for after-service gatherings and meals. Today, the Church continues in honor of its immigrant ancestors who “freely chose a new homeland, and transplanted the seed of the Finnish people to be assimilated within the American dream.”

Saint Mary–Saint Catherine of Siena Parish, Charlestown, Massachusetts

In 2006, the Saint Catherine of Siena parish joined nearby Saint Mary’s Church to form what is now known as Saint Mary–Saint Catherine of Siena Parish. Together they reside in the building that has housed the oldest Roman Catholic parish in Boston since its dedication in 1888, formerly known as Saint Mary’s Church. The Gothic style building designed by Patrick Keely includes: a beautifully ornate hammerbeam oak ceiling; stained glass windows by German-based company Franz Mayer & Co., which depict scenes from the New Testament; and powerful relief sculptures, Stations of the Cross, representing Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion that were created by the ecclesiastical sculptor, Joseph Sibbel. Together with the lessons of Jesus Christ found within the form and voice of the Church, the mission of Saint Mary–Saint Catherine of Siena Parish strives to be in-part “an intentionally inclusive community welcoming all of the many people who make up our diverse neighborhood.”