When large numbers of Polish immigrants began coming to Ipswich in the late 19th and early 20th centuries they brought with them their strong ties to the Catholic church. Initially, masses were held in a chapel rented from the Irish congregation at St. Joseph’s Church on Mt. Pleasant Street. They also paid for the services of a priest. It quickly became apparent that the arrangement did not fulfill the Polish members’ desire to maintain the Polish language and culture.
Around 1905, two representatives of the Polish community, Adam Kobos and Adam Klos were sent to Boston to petition for a church of their own, Permission was granted and the group set out to raise funds among themselves to construct a church. Land on which the church stands was purchased from Mr, Hayward, a prominent industrialist in town, for $1. Many of the Polish residents worked on construction of the church themselves and, with the assistance of a Boston contractor, the church was completed in 1903.
Father Rye was the first pastor. It was known as the Polish Catholic Church. Plans for the church have been attributed to Boston architect Harrison H. Atwood. Atwood was born in Vermont in 1863 and studied architecture at the Boston Architectural School and In the offices of S.J.F. Thayer and George A. Clough (city architect). Atwood worked independently for most of his career and was responsible for the design of many schools, fire stations, and houses in Boston.
Sacred Heart Rectory was built in 1908, along with the adjacent Catholic church, to house the pastor and priests of the church. The building is a two and one-half story dwelling designed in the Craftsman style. Rising from a stucco-covered field stone foundation, the house is covered with stucco and enclosed by a gambrel roof. A large gambrel dormer projects from the west elevation, while a shed dormer extends from the east elevation.
Sacred Heart Church closes, Sunday, April 25, 1999
When the Archdiocese announced plans to close the church, a group of six parishioners met with Cardinal Bernard Law and pleaded with him not to merge Sacred Heart with two other Ipswich Catholic churches. “We don’t think of Polish as being just our spoken language,” said Shirley Ogiba. “We think of Polish as being our culture, and our culture is interwined with our religion.” The appeal was unsuccessful, and the last service at Sacred Heart Church was Sunday, April 25, 1999. Sacred Heart Church merged with Our Lady of Hope on Linebrook Rd.
While the Sacred Heart building retains most of its original appearance, the interior was converted into luxury apartments. The Rectory is now a private residence.