Happy 150th Birthday to the Ascencion Memorial Church located in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
A Brief History of the building, According to the local Ipswich newspaper:
The history of Episcopal worship in Ipswich dates back as early as 1839, but it was not until a significant number of English and Scottish immigrants came in the succeeding decades that a parish was feasible. By 1861, Town Hall and the Damon Building were being used for prayer book services and in 1867 the Parish of the Ascension was organized with the Rev. Henry Wall as its first rector.
In 1868, the Rev. Dr. John Cotton Smith, rector of the Church of the Ascension, New York City, and a summer resident of Ipswich, “with the aid of friends” purchased the present parish lot on County Street from John Heard.
Smith, brother-in-law of vestryman and warden Daniel Fuller Appleton, lent his active support to the new church. One of his New York parishioners, the American architect James Renwick Jr., was chosen to create the design and several artifacts from the Church of the Ascension in New York were donated for the altar area. Other distinctive features, including the decorative windows, were given by the Appleton family and other prominent parishioners.
Consistent with his design for New York’s famed St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Renwick proposed a Gothic Revival-style building for Ipswich. The cornerstone was laid in 1869 and the first service was held in 1870. According to Ipswich historian Thomas Franklin Waters, “Services were begun in the church as soon as the chancel was finished, though the windows were still covered with cotton cloth, and simple settees answered for pews.” Practical Yankees indeed.
Over a dozen years elapsed before the final installment was made on the building in 1881. Construction was then completed and the church was consecrated in 1883. The vision and perseverance of the founders had finally paid off.
Wishing many more years to this beautiful building!