Salvaging a Church

Ten years ago, Sacred Heart Church in Lowell closed it's doors to parishioners. Today, it is being converted into condos.

My friend and my cat's foster mom, Diane, drives by this church on her way to work. She stopped in and spoke with the builder and she came away with some of the items they weren't going to use in the new design. (More about that later in this post)

I was lucky enough to get a tour of the building and see some of the incredible beauty of Sacred Heart Church. I certainly was sad to hear of the church closing and of the current renovation. I do think it's the right decision to repurpose the building however. It would be a crime to just board it up.

Some of the windows have been removed but some were purchased in memory of a family member and it looks like they will be kept. That is the right thing to do.

This set of windows is absolutely stunning! The church was built between 1883 and 1896. Such craftsmanship back then.

Construction is in full swing on this Saturday morning.

The woodwork and carvings, the plaster, the stained glass. it is all so magnificent.

The ceiling is equally stunning. Some of the lights have already been removed.

Look at the detail on the plasterwork and the sweet cherub peeking out from the rafters.

It makes such an impressive entry.

 Another view of the little cherubs.

Love these carvings and the wood. Can you imagine carving that? Just beautiful.

Here's the outside of the church.

We drove to a warehouse which Diane's father owns and Diane showed me the collection of plaster corbels that were going to be demolished.

And church windows. Love the lace pattern!

The windows from the back of the church have a nice shape.

This one is mine! I got to pick the best ones for myself.

She has quite a few of the windows.

And many corbels.

How would you repurpose one?

I think a pair of these might make a fantastic shelf or one of the smaller ones would make a beautiful sconce with a candle on the top.

Diane has been inspired to go into the architectural salvage business after working on this project. I think she has a knack for it and she certainly has the space. I look forward to seeing this new business flourish!


It's really bittersweet for me to read this post. I was baptized, confirmed, graduated 8th grade, and married from the Sacred Heart. There were countless family and school events, as well as holy days and other masses that took place there.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine it would be sold, and never could I have imagined that a priest scandal would be the reason.

I hope the new tenants have a blessed life. I always thought it was the prettiest church in Lowell.

It makes me so sad to see this church close it's doors, and even worse for the reason I read in your first comment. Such history and beauty. The stained glass windows! It will make for one beautiful condo.

Your window is gorgeous as are the corbels...everything actually! We have many salvage warehouses in the city. My sister in law had a very old home and some of the pieces she found looked right at home. As far as uses for the corbels, perhaps look at Pinterest?

Thanks for your visit! :)

Jane xx
Diane said…
Wait- priest scandal? Never knew that is why it closed. We have owned the warehouse around the corner for years. Never heard about it. The pieces are very pretty and I will be creating a website with these items and many more!
Oh, I know how I'd repurpose those corbels....I have a few that we used to build a fireplace with! I'd use them for a fireplace mantel, for shelving, under a kitchen stove hood....oh yes, there is plenty to d with such loveliness! Hmmmm....I wonder what these condos will look like! What a shame...but I guess that is a good use for an old church: housing for those in need. Thank you so much for coming to visit! Anita
LanasArtStudio said…
I had so many different feeling to see this post. Love the gorgeous details and craftsmanship! Sorry to hear that about reason for selling... wishing the best for a new life there and new beginning! Beauty of the architectural details inspired me the most! xx, Lana
Anonymous said…
Thank you very much for posting these photographs. I, too, was a graduate of Sacred Heart School (Class of 1997)and active in the parish up to its closing 10 years ago. I spent the day it closed photographing every square each of the building so I could never forget its beauty. Based on the corbels posted on the blog, I believe the large ones would have framed each side of the large stained glass windows on each side of the 14 main Church windows. The windows in the posts came from the lower Church. Also, just to clarify, Sacred Heart Church did not close due to Priest scandal. The Archdiocese of Boston had a Priest scandal which cost them millions and resulting in consolidations of Churches due to ever increasing up-keep costs, empty pews and dwindling number of vocations. There was no Priest scandal at Sacred Heart. I was one of the few Eucharist Ministers who gave out Communion at the final Mass and can remember it like yesterday. Diane: If you see this post, can you please contact me. I would like to speak with you, perhaps so you some photographs and also check out your warehouse. It would be a great deal as Sacred Heart will always be home to me. email:
Anonymous said…
Diane: Thank you very much for posting these photos! I was a graduate of Sacred Heart School (Class of 1997) and active in parish life up until its closing some 10 years ago! Just to clarify the earlier post about a priest scandal...The Archdiocese of Boston di have a priest scandal that affected many of its 250+ parishes, however, Sacred Heart was not one of them. The Archdiocese paid out thousands of dollars to victims of abuse and as a result consolidated/closed over 60 of its parishes. Other reasons for closure included increasing maintenance costs, empty pews on Sunday and less calls to vocations. I was part of the closing committee as Sacred Heart and want to dispel that rumor. The Church closed with the dignity and respect it deserved after serving the Catholic community of South Lowell for over a century. The day of the final Mass I spent all day photographing every inch of the building so my memory can never fail. I believe the large corbels you have to have framed each of the 14 main Church stained glass windows. The frosted/etched glass windows you have were from the lower Church. Diane: If you see this can you please contact me as I would like to speak to you and visit your warehouse. It’s like you discovered a treasure and I would love to have the opportunity to view and perhaps purchase something. I can be reached at Thanks again, Kris

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