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In Narragansett, the Boon Street Presbyterian Church begins next chapter

While the outside has been painstakingly rebuilt as a near-replica of the iconic church, the modern interior will house condominiums instead of a congregation.

Peter DeMarco for the Boston Globe
The wood-shingled spire of the reconstructed belfry rests on the ground at the site of the old Boon Street Presbyterian Church in Narragansett. A developer is rebuilding the church, though a more-modern interior will house condos instead of a congregation.

NARRAGANSETT, R.I. —When the Boon Street Presbyterian Church opened in the early 1880s, it was an architectural masterpiece, designed by the same Boston firm, Ware and Van Brunt, that built Harvard University’s Memorial Hall and First Church on Marlborough Street in Boston.

The church was a centerpiece of the community for generations, but the flock eventually thinned. The building was used as a community hall, and then, if you can believe it, a used-car garage. The belfry atop its granite tower was destroyed in the Great New England Hurricane of 1938; the gorgeous, gabled roof was burned in a fire in the 1950s; and its carved, wooden entrance doors were carted off. What remained was a ghost of what once was.


When architect and developer Craig Miller stumbled upon the dilapidated property five years ago while vacationing with his family, he had no idea what he was looking at. “It had a flat roof and a tower. I thought it had been a fire station,” he said.

Intrigued, he called the phone number on the for-sale sign. “The broker called me back, he showed me a picture of what it was, and I said, ‘Oh, we have no choice. We have to put it back as a church,’” said Miller, president of Waterfield Design Group of Winchester, Mass.

Now, the building has been resurrected, in a sense. And on Aug. 29, as construction neared completion, the former church’s most-iconic element was restored.

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