20 High Vale Lane

Historical Narrative: 

Themes: Architectural; Community Development; Religion
Present owner: Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston Corp.
Original owner: St. Mary's Church, 1883
The Church was established as mission of St. Augustine's, Andover

Roman Catholic Church was established at Ballardvale through efforts of Father Murphy, the priest at St. Augustine's, Andover, in 1881
Building dedicated Oct. 23, 1881

The first Roman Catholic Church to be built in Andover was located at 71 Central Street on the site of the present Belknap House. On June 22, 1852, the Archbishop of Boston, John Bernard Fitzpatrick, purchased a lot of land on Central St. from Mathew Culley. A modest church structure was built along with a cottage house and small barn was erected on the site by Rev. James O'Donnell O.S.C. of Lawrence. St. Augustine's Parish was a mission church from St. Mary's Church Society of Lawrence. The church was served by Lawrence clergy until 1866 when St. Augustine's was established as an independent parish.

Rev. Michael F. Gallagher, O.S.A. became the first pastor. "On his untimely death in 1869, he was succeeded by Rev. Ambrose A. Mullen, O.S.A." Father Mullen was a former president of Villanova College, came with "experience and wisdom" vastly developing the parish.

July 9, 1875 Andover Advertiser (AA) - William Corse has sold his land and buildings on Essex Street to Father A. A. Mullen. James Howarth executed the deed transfer from Corse to Father Mullen on July 12, 1875. As the property contained the William Corse home, the deed stipulated that Corse had use of the east side tenement rent free for the remainder of the year and a Mr. Osborn, renting the west side tenement, could continue to rent for the same period of time. William Corse was an Andover merchant who had a shoe store in the basement of the Baptist Church later moving to other locations.

St. Augustine's church relocated to 43 Essex St. in 1879 to a more central location for the parishioners. Sadly Father Mullen died in 1876. Rev. Maurice Murphy, O.S.A. continued Rev. Mullen's work and "set about building a permanent church, a wooden structure on the site of the present rectory."

June 27, 1879 AA – Father Murphy was seen one morning this week, pick in hand, working with the laborers on the foundation of his new church on Essex Street. The work of putting in the foundation of the new Catholic Church on Essex Street is progressing rapidly. The structure will be of wood, 60 x 80 feet, seats for six hundred persons. The expense will be about $10,000 and the building it is expected will be completed by Christmas.
The Andover Advertiser (AA) - Dec. 3, 1880 - St. Augustine’s new church to open.
The large Gothic Revival building took three more years to complete and services were conducted in the basement while the upper church was finished. It was dedicated on Sept. 2, 1883.

What slowed the construction down of the new St. Augustine's was noted on April 22, 1881 AA pg 2. col. 9 - At a meeting of the Catholic Church, recently held, it was voted to suspend further work on their church edifice for the present, and proceed at once with to build the church at Ballard Vale.
Pg 3. Ballard Vale. Work on the new Catholic Church on High St. has already commenced and the building will be completed in a few months. It will have a seating capacity for 300 persons. Builder, James Bulger of Burlington, VT. who is the contractor.

May 20, 1881 AA - Foundation in for the new Catholic Church – built under the supervision of John Stack. (St. Joseph’s Church on High Vale St.)
September 2, 1881 AA - St. Joseph’s Church at Ballard Vale, has stained glass windows from the establishment of Messrs. Cook, Reading and Congress. Co.
The building was dedicated on October 23, 1881.

June 26, 1896 AA - Pg. 5 Work on the new addition to St. Joseph’s church, which will cost $2100 was begun last Monday. It is also intended to build a belfry and purchase a bell.
Sept. 11, 1896 – pg. 5 BV – New belfry on St. Joseph’s Church greatly improves its appearance, especially at a distance.

Father Murphy was succeeded by a priest of equal zeal in 1887, the Very Rev. Jeremiah J. Ryan, O.S.A. who remained until 1894.

St. Joseph's Church was built in the Gothic style, sometimes referred to as Carpenter Gothic when made of wood rather than stone. The building was originally board and batten finished siding with small pinnacle finials at each corner projecting upward above the eaves, now there but modified to a ball shape. A cross surmounted the peak of the front gable which originally held dental work below the eaves on the front facade. The pointed arched windows and trim treatment also add to the period style.
Church established as mission of St. Augustine's, Andover. The Roman Catholic Church was established at Ballardvale through efforts of Father Murphy, the priest at St. Augustine's, Andover, in 1881

Bernice Haggerty’s article on St. Joseph's Church in the Andover Historical Society Newsletter - Autumn 1982

"For over one hundred years a pretty white chapel has stood with simple dignity overlooking the village of Ballard Vale. St. Joseph's Church was erected on High St. (now High Vale Lane) for the convenience of the Catholic residents of this bustling mill community by the Rev. Maurice Murphy, O.S.A.,pastor of St. Augustine's Church in Andover. As this structure was being built the new St. Augustine's Parish on the Essex St. site was not yet finished. St Joseph's dedication took place on Oct. 23, 1881.
Prior to that time, Mass was celebrated in the hall over the Boston and Maine depot. The first time Mass was said in the community was on February 4, 1866 by the Rev. Michael Gallagher, rector of St. Augustine's.

St. Joseph's was a wooden building surmounted by a small spire and was only large enough to afford seats for two hundred worshipers while the congregation Numbered about four hundred. The interior was one of simplicity enhanced by the sun's rays reflected through the lovely stained glass windows. There were three alters, one large and a small one on each side. These were given to the church by Josiah Putnam Bradlee, owned of the Ballard Val Manufacturing Co. There was a choir loft in which there was a Hook and Hastings organ, built in 1883. This organ was sold in 1970.
St. Joseph's continues to be a very busy chapel, having three Masses filled to capacity each Sunday. It has always been a Mission church with a priest in attendance from St. Augustine's each week.

There have been many changes throughout the years and this year two exciting additions have been made. A beautiful and unique stained glass window was installed over the alter, replacing one removed several years ago. Also, a new carillon now rings out its music to signal the start of each Sunday morning and at noon and six o'clock each evening of the week.

This neat building will long continue to keep vigil on the hill overlooking the ever-changing scene below."


Andover Historical Society file, St. Augustine
Lawrence Eagle Tribune June 11, 1955
May, 1991 Andover preservation award
Plan map #5576 - St. Joseph's Church property, Andover, MA Oct. 1966

James Damon -
Gardner Warren - May 17, 1853 - b. 477 leaf 160
George Ellis of Newton, MA - Aug. 14, 1854 - b. 499 leafs 157 - 158
George J. Tenney & Samuel Little - Apr. 27, 1864 - b. 666 leaf 37-40 ( leaf 38)
Rev. Louis W. Edge & Rev. Michael Gallagher - March 4, 1867 - b. 720 leaf 136 church lot
Patrick Stanton of Philadelphia
Augustinian Society of Lawrence, Christopher A. McEvoy, Pres. & Jeremiah J. Ryan, Treas. - Apr. 23, 1870 - b. 5 p. 251
Maurice J. Murphy, John H. Devir & Peter C. McGovern, Trustees - Dec. 21, 1883 - b. 74 p. 424
Kenneth J. Kennedy, Trustee, Andover successor - Aug. 30, 1966 - Doc. #288668
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston - Nov. 16, 1966 - b. 1072 p. 200

Inventory Data:

StreetHigh Vale Ln
Historic DistrictBallardvale National Register District
Historic NameSt. Joseph's Church
Present Usechurch
Original Usechurch
Construction Date1881
SourceAHS files, style njs
Architectural StyleGothic Revival
Wall/Trimaluminum siding
Roofslate shingled
Acreage47,280 sq. ft.
Map and parcel139-52
Recorded byStack/Mofford, James S. Batchelder
OrganizationAndover Preservation Commission
Date entered1975-77, 12/14/2016