Project Info

Restoring the First Parish Church of Dorchester Steeple Lantern

During the 2012-2013 academic year, second-year North Bennet Street School (NBSS) preservation carpentry students had the unique and uniquely rewarding experience of restoring the lantern for the steeple of the First Parish Church in Dorchester. <!--break--> Puritan settlers built the First Parish Church around 1630 and established the first congregation in Boston. Around 1896, the fifth version of the church was lost to fire and the sixth and current structure was built on the site in 1897. It was designed by Cabot, Everett and Mead and is the only Colonial Revival clapboard meetinghouse in Boston. The NBSS preservation carpentry program was engaged to help with much-needed restoration of the building including the complete restoration of the two-story lantern. The Lantern is 53 feet high and preservation carpentry students spent a total of 7,842 man-hours over three months restoring every detail of the lantern. Recognized as one of the premier woodworking schools in the country, North Bennet Street School teaches the time-honored skills, ideas and values of fine craftsmanship through intensive hands-on training in Preservation Carpentry. The exceptional curriculum, master faculty and inspiring community encourage individual growth and curiosity, commitment to excellence and authenticity and technical mastery. The Preservation Carpentry program attracts students who share a love of history, materials, quality workmanship, and working with their hands to build, restore and preserve beautiful structures that are designed to last. The two-year, comprehensive Preservation Carpentry program combines an introduction to contemporary residential construction with a thorough grounding in pre-20th century New England house construction. Through lectures, demonstrations, projects and site work, students are exposed to a broad range of construction methods, including stabilizing endangered buildings, preserving and uncovering architectural details and recreating documented design elements. Students develop an understanding of building components and systems and learn to compare current technology and traditional tools and practices.
Dorchester, Massachusetts
Click images below to make larger.
Before restoration, the steeple was a pile of wood.
The church after the lantern was removed.
Salvaging material and making reproduction parts was done in the preservation carpentry shop.
The lower section was put together in the shop and then taken apart and moved to the site.
The pineapple on the top was not able to be salvaged.
A new pineapple was turned and carved.
Gilding the pineapple.
Work on site included shingling the domed roof.
The enclosure is removed and the lower section is reconstructed on site.
In June 2013, a crane lifted the mast into place (left) and then lifted the upper section in place.
In August 2013, the lantern is ready and the lift begins.
Flying into place.
Done !

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