History of Seventh-day Adventists in Boston
Seventh-day Adventists have been part of the Boston Community since 1870. On May 1, 1870, M. E. performed the first Seventh-day Adventist baptism in Dorchester Bay. The four men and seven women immersed in the cool salty waves joined with six other church members to sign the first “Covenant of the Church” stating, “We hereby associate ourselves together as a church, taking the name Seventh-day Adventists and holding meetings in South Boston, covenanting to keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” The Boston Adventists immediately pooled their resources and found a meeting place, Berea Hall, at 815 Washington Street, Boston, which they rented for $300 a year. A little over a year later, they officially allied themselves with the fledgling Seventh-day Adventist Church with J.N. Andrews and L.N. Haskell presiding at the organizational meeting. In April 1879, the little church family moved to a new meeting place at 176 Tremont Street, across the street from Boston Common. Boston Hall, as it was then called, would be their home for six years. At this time, the little group struggled. It was difficult for people to get to church each week; transportation to and fro was difficult at best and impossible at worst.
This changed when electrified public transportation came to Boston. In 1888 the first wires were hung over iron tracks on Beacon Street. The Tremont Street subway, the first in the United States, opened in 1897 and construction of an elevated electric train began in 1898. These improvements provided easy access to the center of Boston and soon small groups who had been meeting in the suburbs found their way to the Boston church and the membership finally began to grow.
History of the Boston Temple Congregation
In 1921, the congregation left Boston Hall and rented an attractive Baptist church on the corner of Warren and West Canton Streets; then, a few months later, learned that it was for sale. They voted to purchase it and name it the Boston Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church. On November 18, 1922 for $45,000 they became ‘home owners’ for the first time. With seating for a thousand, a large pipe organ, stained glass windows, and enough classrooms for a school, the Warren Avenue church is still fondly remembered by those who belonged to the congregation at that time.By the 1930’s the Warren Street church was in need of extensive repairs and redecoration. After assessing the congregation’s needs and the state of the building, the congregation decided, in September 1940, to sell the church for $30,000. While they looked for a new home, the church family rented Brattle Hall in Harvard Square.
History of the current Boston Temple building
The rental of Brattle Hall lasted only a short period when the congregation heard of an attractive Unitarian church for sale on the corner of Peterborough and Jersey Streets. This building, The Church of the Disciples, had been erected in 1904 on the outskirts of a new and fashionable neighborhood. The Boston Landmarks commission describes the structure as “blending elements of classical and Georgian Revival styles . . . a solid example of early twentieth century Boston church design.” Designed by architect James Purdon, construction of the brick structure, with its white cast stone columns and trim, cost $80,000 (the total cost, including land, furnishings, landscaping, and architect’s fees, came to $115,000). The building included a large lighted library (present-day Powery Hall) and a 3-manual, 2000 pipe organ installed by Hutchings and Volney in 1907. It was a wonderful church but, by 1941, the Unitarian congregation had dwindled to only a handful of members and could no longer afford to keep up such a large building. Boston Temple pastor, Theodore Carcich, negotiated the purchase of the church on May 10, 1941 for $35,000. When they moved into their new church home, Temple members found a “floating” floor in the basement, composed of perpetually damp boards that eventually warped. There was no baptistery, and the second floor, though it contained a large lofty room, lacked the children’s classroom needed for the full program the Temple already had. Soon after moving in, volunteer skilled labor rearranged the plumbing, put up partitions, and finished the building providing a workable church facility for the many ministries, events, and programs at the Temple. Today, Boston Temple stands as a cornerstone of the Boston Fenway community.