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About Our Parish

History of The Design and Architecture

of The Original St. Francis of Assisi Church

The design and architecture of the original Church is based on a modified 12th century Norman style developed in England and Normandy.  The Norman style is typified by its simple use of brick or stone, low wall height, and steeply pitched gables.

This architectural choice was fortuitous, especially during war time when building materials were rare indeed.  The entire building was constructed from brick and almost completely faced with Longmeadow brownstone.  Both materials, indigenous to the Connecticut River Valley, were readily available.

The brick was provided by the Pola family’s Pleasant Valley Brick Company and the brownstone was quarried about 25 miles from the site.  Before the Church was completed, the quarry closed (prompted by the war) and the rear of the building had to be faced with brick.  The architect and contractor deftly adapted the plans to unobtrusively blend the brick fascia.  To harmonize with the brownstone, the roof was sheathed in gray, green, and purple hues of Vermont slate.

The front of the Church is graced by the great rose window and the Roman arch front doors.  The original construction of the Church contained only five stained glass windows.  Additional stained glass windows were placed two years after construction.  All of the windows were designed by John Terrance O’Duggan of Boston.  The original five windows, located in the front of the Church, are considered to be the most intricate and beautiful of all the windows.

Two deeply recessed casement windows are located on the west and east side of the front door.  The west window depicts Jesus in the Temple and the east window depicts Jesus blessing the children.  Two small, detailed windows made from 266 pieces of glass, depicting the Alpha and the Omega, are located in the front doors.

The great rose window is the largest and most ornate of all the stained glass in the Church.  The large, three-foot central panel depicts the Lamb of the Apocalypse seated upon the Book of the Seven Seals, a symbol of our Redeemer.  Surrounding the central panel are eight petal-like half circles in geometric and floral design.  The 25 different parts of this window are tied together by the ornamental segments of great circles woven subtly into the design as a decorative element.

The interior of the Church was designed to mirror the simplicity of the exterior lines.  Most of the interior is painted brick and plaster walls and rafters made from knotty pine.

The original altar, weighing more than 10 tons, was formed from Indiana limestone.  Above the altar was a decorative painting by Daniel Goodison which served as a background for a large crucifix.

Construction costs were $62,030.  Additional structural and ornamental items were purchased by individual parishioners or their families including: the communion rail, three altars, crucifix, confessionals, baptismal font, stained glass windows, statues of Mary and Joseph, vestments, chairs, kneelers, and carpet. 

Construction of the Church was completed in November 1942 with a dedication ceremony held that same month.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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