Sunday, June 26, 2011

H.H. Richardson, Baptist Church, Newton Corner, 1884. The doors, the doors!

S. IBRAHIM & Worker look on as Marash Girl bemoans removal of original doors of H.H.Richardson Church
Built by architect H. H. Richardson in 1884 as the Baptist Church, at the northwest corner of Church and Centre Streets in Newton Corner, known as the Immanuel Baptist Church in the 1940's through to the late 1990's, now known as Newton Corner Worship Center, this church body has deigned to remove the ancient brass handled heavy oak doors for new replica doors. Their reasoning? The original oak doors were rotten.  On close inspection, there was no evidence of rot; in fact, S. Ibrahim with whom I spoke on Friday (on left in above photo)  agreed that they were not rotten and reassured me that the doors would be saved, that his son would be installing them somewhere west of Newton as a memorial to the church.

Is there no law in Newton against tearing apart historical monuments designed by world famous architects?

Newton Corner residents, arise!
                    "Baptist Church, Newton, Mass. Built in 1884 by H.H.Richardson, Architect."
                        Image from American Architect & Building News, October 1, 1887

The original heavy oak doors with heavy brass handles thrown aside.
New contemporary doors 'grace' the entrance to this 1884 H.H.Richardson church, now known as the Newton Corner Worship Center.

"Help to maintain the historic fabric of our city!"


  1. I talked to Brian Lever, the staff person to the Historic Commission. He said there is nothing the city can do
    because there is no historic restrictions on the property. It is not on the Registry, etc.

    Unfortunately the demolition permitting process does not apply either because of the small area affected on the facade.

  2. There are general protections in Newton through the demolition permit process required of any buildings in Newton that
    are to be demolished or partly demolished. This process can force delayed demolition but not stop it. Often the
    process yield negotiated solutions that helps preserve buildings or parts of buildings.

    Newton also has four Historic Districts throughout the city, unfortunately Newton Corner is not included in any of them.
    Any exterior work within a district requires review by the local Historic District Commission. The current districts include
    Upper Falls, Chestnut Hill, Newtonville & Auburndale

    For specific properties, if the community wants to preserve them, they need to push the owners or the city to apply
    for Landmark status, with the Commonwealth or the National registry. These designations carry restrictions on changes to the
    building exterior, such as the doors. The City is generally sympathetic to these efforts however it is a lengthly and consuming
    task for everyone involved. Contact Brian Lever or Katy Holmes in the Planning department for more specific information.