St. Joseph's Church

  • St. Joseph's Church
  • "During the early days, when Wakefield was still called South Reading, Catholics in this 1500-resident community did not have a church of their own. When they wanted to congregate for worship, they travelled to Lynn. Some years later, several members of the Catholic community approached a priest from Salem who agreed to say Mass in Wakefield. The first Mass was attended by only a few Wakefield families, with over 200 people attending from the surrounding towns. The money received from this Mass was enough to buy a 150' by 80' parcel of land on Albion Street. A chapel was built on this land in 1852 and was dedicated as the Church of St. Mary's on August 18, 1854. The town of Wakefield grew tremendously over the next two decades and necessitated additional space for worship. In 1870, plans were drawn to build a church to seat 800 people and the original church was moved to Murray Street and became known as Lyceum Hall, and later as St. Joseph's Hall. In November, 1871 the new church opened with a front entrance on Albion Street. The Church of St. Mary's, which was previously considered a mission, became a full parish and was renamed St. Joseph's Church in 1873. A rectory was later built on the corner of Gould and Albion Streets. Every family in the parish was required to rent pew space for a period of three months. The church became too small and additional land was purchased. Over a period of 16 years, the church was moved closer to the railroad tracks, the nave was extended, the spire was erected, the entrance was changed to Tuttle Street, and a basement was added. The new church, officially dedicated in November 1890, cost $30,000 and had a seating capacity of 1200. The church was the victim of two fires. The first occurred on September 20, 1963 with substantial water damage, while the second completely gutted the church on March 24, 1977. Parishioners attended Mass at the Wakefield Jr. High School until the church was rebuilt and dedicated on June 27, 1980. Today the church is in the same locati;Captions: 1. The church prior to the 1977 fire. -- 2. St. Joseph's Church in 1860. The front entrance was located on Albion Street -- 3. St. Joseph's Church boasts a modern, elliptical shape.
  • Image from the Wakefield Municipal Gas and Light Department annual calendar, 1988
  • Photos courtesy of Bourdon Studios, Louis Picardi and the Payro family.
  • [Wakefield, Mass.] : Wakefield Municipal Gas & Light Department


“St. Joseph's Church,” NOBLE Digital Heritage, accessed September 29, 2020,


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