Restoring sashes for the oldest church in Boston

NBSS preservation carpentry students restore the window sashes of the First Parish Church in Dorchester.

First Parish Church in Dorchester was the second church in the Massachusetts Colony, the third in New England and, through Dorchester’s annexation, became the oldest church in Boston. First Parish’s fifth church building, built in 1816, was destroyed by a fire in February 1896. The congregation hired the renowned Boston architectural firm Cabot, Everett and Mead and by May 1897, a new Colonial-Revival building stood tall. Strong evidence suggests First Parish Church is one of the oldest ecclesiastic examples of Colonial-Revival architecture in the nation. To undertake much-needed repairs, the 80-member congregation is raising $5.2 million. One of the first projects was restoring the window sashes, work done by NBSS preservation carpentry students.

Many of the 115 year old sashes required repairs to prepare them for glazing the new and old glass back into the frames. Students became expert glass cutters by cutting to size over one hundred pieces of glass from sheets of reproduction cylinder glass ordered for this project. Almost half of the glass in the twelve-over-twelve sashes were Plexiglas and needed to be replaced. The installation of the restored windows included bronze weather stripping to tighten up the building envelope and reduce drafts.

This before shot shows that nearly half of the openings in the sash had been replaced by plexiglass after the church had been stoned in the 1960's. The restored parapets and re-pointing and painted chimney is seen in this image.
Removing the old sashes.
Covering the window openings after the sashes are removed.
This and the next several photos show students working on the sashes in the preservation carpentry.
Preparing for installation.
Sashes installed !

Learn more about the Preservation Carpentry program.
Preservation carpentry students restored the steeple of the church in 2013. Read the story.