A Brief History of the Parish

The Church of the Advent was born in 1844 from the inspiration of a group of Bostonians who desired to establish a new parish that would put into practice the ideals of the then-11-year-old Oxford Movement, which was attracting attention, converts, and controversy in England. The Oxford Movement called upon the Church of England to return to its historic roots in the undivided Catholic Church, including a restoration of liturgical practices which had fallen so far out of use that Anglican worship at the time looked little different from that of a Congregationalist church. The Movement’s ideas quickly spread to America, where these Boston gentry resolved to found a church that would espouse and preach them.  [Continue Reading]

The Parish Charter

The name of this corporation shall be the “Parish of the Advent”; and its objects are to secure to a portion of the City of Boston the ministrations of the Holy Catholic Church, and more especially to secure the same to the poor and needy, in a manner free from unnecessary expense and all ungracious circumstances; and for this purpose this Parish accedes to the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship and the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, and to the Constitution and Canons of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, and acknowledges their authority. [Continue Reading]

An Illustrated History of the Advent

John Sturgis's original design for the Church of the Advent

About the Church Building

The Advent's first home was an "upper room" of a building on Merrimack Street in the North End, near present-day Haymarket, from which the parish moved six months later to a hall at the corner of Lowell and Causeway Streets, near what is now North Station. The parish occupied this space for two years before moving in 1847 to a church on nearby Green Street. All of these early buildings have disappeared, as have Lowell and Green Streets themselves, although their former locations can be seen on this 1842 map. (Lowell Street, unlabeled, runs perpendicular to Causeway Street just east of another now-vanished road named Leverett Street.)

In 1863 the congregation moved to a building on Bowdoin Street but was soon well on the way to outgrowing the space. In 1874 the parish bought land at the corner of Mt. Vernon and Brimmer Streets - which, as the 1842 map shows, had not even existed when the parish was founded 30 years before. This land was created from lowering the height of some Boston hills by several feet beginning in the 1850s. (Excavations in our undercroft in late 2003 unearthed several old bottles and other artifacts from the taverns that dotted Boston neighborhoods at the time.) The present building was designed in the Early English Gothic Style by Boston architect and Advent parishioner John Hubbard Sturgis in 1875 and was substantially complete by 1888. consecrated on Advent Sunday, 1894, exactly 50 years to the day after the first service at 13 Merrimac Street.

Rectors of the Advent

Change Ringing at The Church of the Advent

In 1900, eight bells in the key of E were cast for the Church of the Advent at the Whitechapel Bellfoundry in London through the gift of Robert Codman in memory of his wife, Catherine. At their dedication on October 7th, 1900 they “were pronounced to be of remarkable richness, dignity and mellowness of tone.” These marvelous bells, the lightest 666 pounds and the heaviest more than 2100 pounds, are still rung every week by the Advent Guild of Bellringers in the style known as English Change Ringing.  [Continue Reading]