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Church of the Immaculate Conception/Jesuit Urban Center and Harrison Court (Rectory and Boston College)

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Rectory and Boston College
1858–1861, Patrick C. Keely. 775 Harrison Ave. 1858–1860, Louis Weissbein; 1889–1890 expanded. 761 Harrison Ave.
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception/Jesuit Urban Center (Peter Vanderwarker or Antonina Smith)

In 1842 the Jesuits began negotiating with the City of Boston for land on which to build a college. In 1857 they purchased the present site, and the next year laid the cornerstone for both the Church of the Immaculate Conception and a school. Although both buildings were originally to be built in brick, a New Hampshire contractor offered enough white granite from his own quarries for the church, thereby creating a unique edifice among the predominantly brick surroundings. The broad temple-form building, with a triple arched entrance crowned by a double triangular pediment in addition to a projecting pavilion with Palladian window, is an outstanding example of Renaissance Revival by the Patrick C. Keely firm. The exterior is enlivened by Ionic pilasters and tall etched-glass windows encased by James Gibbs–inspired rusticated surrounds. The bright and lofty interior, a three-aisled church with wide central coffered vault resting on composite columns, culminates dramatically at the altar with a triple arched retable surmounted by a heavy cornice and freestanding niches. The aisles have been particularly modified to provide office space for the Jesuit Urban Center.

The Victorian facade of the adjacent rectory (today the entrance to Harrison Court) is decorated with window pediments and a slightly projecting central pavilion, whose height was originally emphasized by an elaborate three-story cupola. The school was a Jesuit seminary, until Boston College was chartered in 1863. Boston College sponsored a seven-year educational program that encompassed both high school and college training; this expansion necessitated the Tplan addition to the brick school behind the rectory with a new long facade punctuated by three projecting pavilions containing arched entrances. After Boston College (NW2) moved to Newton in 1916 and Boston College High School (DR6) to Dorchester in the 1950s, the connected buildings were developed into their present-day use as the Jesuit Urban Center and commercial residential units.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan


What's Nearby


Keith N. Morgan, "Church of the Immaculate Conception/Jesuit Urban Center and Harrison Court (Rectory and Boston College)", [Boston, Massachusetts], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of Massachusetts

Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, Keith N. Morgan, with Richard M. Candee, Naomi Miller, Roger G. Reed, and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009, 140-140.

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