A stone chapel rich in history and beauty

The Chapel at West Parish was constructed in 1909 as part of a master plan to convert the once rural four acre burial ground into a 50 acre garden cemetery. Funded and built by William M. Wood, President of the American Woolen Company, the chapel was designed in a Romanesque style typical of English and Scottish Kirks that dot the countryside throughout Great Britain. The architect was George C. Shattuck, Andover native, employed with the Boston firm of Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge

Chapel Architecture

The chapel is constructed of native stone, much of which came from a small quarry off Cutler Road next to the cemetery grounds. The walls support massive Hammer Beam and King Post trusses of the vaulted ceiling. The front façade is dominated by a large central arch entry, flanked by double engaged columns. The architrave above the door has deep cut intricate patterns reminiscent of Celtic braid designs. Two bas relief angels above the entrance hold a book and a scroll and stand sentry to the gates of heaven. The chapel is sited in a northwest direction with its four corners on each point of the compass.

The chapel interior is paneled in a dark stained red oak. The walls above are plaster finished and textured to look like Caen stone blocks. Twelve trusses hold up the vaulted ceiling. The main floor of the sanctuary is 31′ x 36′, contains 20 pews and can accommodate 120 people comfortably.

Chapel Restoration

Restoration of the chapel began in August 1998 and was completed in May of 1999 at a cost of $493,000. After years of being closed, unused and in great disrepair the chapel has been returned to its former glory. Updated to meet current fire and safety codes, the chapel has been in continuous use since the project was completed. Summer and ecumenical services, weddings, funerals, memorial services and music concerts all take place within the Chapel today.

The West Parish Garden Cemetery Inc. continues to serve the needs of the local community as a non sectarian, non denominational final resting place open to all. We continue to maintain, restore and preserve the landscape with a hope that future generations will be able to find peace and tranquility within the grounds of this beautiful landscape.

Tiffany Windows

This chapel is one of only two churches built in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts with all of its windows made by the Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios of New York. The elegant Kirk was restored by the generosity of the Friends of the West Parish Garden Cemetery and a grant from the Massachusetts Historic Commission in 1998. The chapel is considered by many as the crown jewel of the West Parish Center National Historic District.

The Tiffany windows are designed in rose and pictorial configurations. The two rose windows are 10 feet in diameter and contain 16 individual panels and a center medallion. Three pictorial windows line each side wall of the chapel. The theme of these windows is taken from the last judgment in the book of Mathew: Chapter 25: verses 35 – 46. They were created to provide images of intrinsic worth and are characterized as following:

Windows of sunsets in geometric patterns are placed in each corner of the chapel to bring light into the vestibule areas and maintain balance of design to the exterior facade.

photos courtesy of Bob Burnett

Chapel Pipe Organ

The original organ, we believe, was built by the Skinner Organ Company of Boston. The organ had a very rare mechanical working bellows system. Driven by water power piped in from Lowell Street and pushed through a water piston mechanism in the basement, two rods expand and lower the bellows.

The water then drained into the reflecting pond behind the chapel. This rare instrument has since been replaced by a Rodgers digitally matched organ to produce the full rich pipe organ tones of days gone by. This wonderful instrument fills the sanctuary with beautiful music.

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The combination of a beautiful garden setting for pictures, near-perfect acoustics, and the Romanesque feel of the Chapel can provide the ultimate setting for a wedding or other event.