(Patrick D. Rosso/Boston.com/2013)
The First Parish Church in Dorchester is once again whole: its steeple, removed in 2006 for repairs, was placed back atop the Parish Street church.
A ceremony was held Tuesday morning to welcome the ornament back home and celebrate the renovations made to it and the church’s exterior.
“The church building has been deteriorating for many, many years and it is a real accomplishment for this community to be able to rebuild,” said Revered Arthur Lavoie of the First Parish Church. “The steeple has been a beacon of hope and welcoming for the congregation and the people of Dorchester for a long time.”
As part of the congregation’s $5-million restoration efforts, the steeple, which was found to be failing structurally, was repaired with the help of students from the North Bennett Street School. Its bell tower and lantern sections were refurbished and a small time capsule was also placed inside of it.
In addition to the work on the steeple, the church has been hidden behind scaffolding for a number of years as crews repaired its structure, gave it a fresh coat of paint, and repaired various parts of its exterior.
“I’ve noticed in the eight-years I’ve been in Dorchester there has been a rebirth in the neighborhood,” said Lavoie. “I see revitalization and I think the church and the congregation is part of that.”
Residents, politicians, and parishioners gathered at Allen Park and on Parish Street to watch the steeple get hoisted to the top of the century old church.
“Having the steeple back and lit really brings First Parish back its symbolic state and it also makes it a more welcoming community,” explained Charles Swift, the former church historian. “The important thing about First Parish is that it’s been around since 1630 and even now when we have dozens and dozens of churches, we are still welcoming all kinds people to this church.”
Tuesday’s event was a momentous occasion for the community, but just another day in the congregation’s long history, which first began in 1630 after it was founded by the Puritans.
The current First Parish Church was constructed in 1897 after the structure before it burned down.
In addition to the providing religious services, the First Parish Church has become a gathering place for the community, even hosting benefits for the Dorchester Day Parade.