Recall that back in August, three professors from Queen’s University in Belfast traveled to Lowell as part of a joint venture with UMass Lowell to do an archaeological dig in front of St Patrick Church. I wrote a post about the dig back then and now I’m trying to assist long-distance by researching some of the early deeds to the church.
The current St Patrick property consisting of the land underneath the church, the rectory, the school and the parking lot, was cobbled together over many years from many smaller parcels. Compiling the ownership history of the entire property is like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle.
The earliest deed is dated September 13, 1830 when the Proprietors of Locks and Canals for $1 conveyed a 8140 square foot parcel across from the “new canal called the Western Canal” to “the Right Reverend Benedict Fenwick, Bishop of Boston.” This deed required the new owner to build and operate a church for public religious services on the parcel, failing which the Proprietors had the right to repossess the property. Nearly a year later, on June 1, 1831, the Proprietors conveyed an adjacent parcel, this one 1605 square feet in size, to the Bishop. A third deed, this one for a 2884 square foot parcel, was conveyed to the Bishop on June 3, 1835.
Twenty years later, there was another burst of land acquisition as the current day St Patrick Church was being constructed. On June 23, 1853, John Knowles of Chelmsford conveyed to “John B. Fitzpatrick of Boston” (the then Catholic Bishop) as 5729 square foot parcel on Adams Street for $1500. In the deed, Knowles reserved the right to remove “the buildings and building materials including stone thereon within a reasonable time or such time as the tenants can be moved.”
On September 9, 1853, a John McCarthy of Lowell conveyed to Bishop Fitzpatrick a parcel that was only 101 square feet in size. What’s significant about this deed is this language: “The said southerly line of said parcel of land being six inches south of the outside of the southeast buttress in the wall on the south side of the new Stone Church now being erected.” So that deed tells us that the current St Patrick Church was in the midst of being constructed in early September 1853.
I’ll share more information as it becomes available.