In addition to the historic churches that dot the Boston skyline, sacred spaces are hidden around the edges, just out of view. These chapels, meditation and prayer rooms invite passers-by to pause, sit for a moment, and reflect – to cool down on a hot day or warm up on a cold one. While a few of these spaces have been mentioned in the Boston Globe, we begin to look at them here as a group and consider what they offer – literally and symbolically – to Bostonians and visitors in our daily lives.
We focus on spaces designed or explicitly marked for spiritual and religious purposes in places with more secular functions in the greater Boston area. Some are stand-alone while others are a part of larger buildings. Some were designed by well-known architects while others were created informally by people desiring a small retreat.
We have identified more than fifty hidden sacred spaces. Sites range from municipal contexts (such as the historic chapel at Logan Airport and the new Our Lady of Good Voyages Chapel on the seaport), to shopping malls (Prudential Center), military organizations (Hanscom Air Force Base), universities (a long list), health care organizations (an equally long list), prisons (MCI Framingham), mental health centers (Lindemann Mental Health Center) cemeteries (Mount Auburn), and rehabilitation centers (Spaulding).
We begin to share images of these spaces here with brief descriptions of their histories and current usage. Each offers a glimpse of the city, historically and in the present, from a sacred edge that might cultivate new ways of seeing. We are currently scheduling exhibitions of these photographs and anticipate a book in the coming years.
We pursue this project in memory of the late Karla Johnson, AIA, Principal, Johnson Roberts Associates who designed the Interfaith Center at Tufts University and taught, through her buildings and her life, the importance of pause.
For more information, check out the project profile on Brandeis Now
Wendy Cadge recently spoke to WBUR's Radio Boston about the project- listen to the interview here.
An interview with Wendy and some selected photographs were featured on the Boston Magazine blog.
This project is made possible through grants provided by Brandeis University and Wellesley College, and through the generous support of The Theodore and Jane Norman Fund For Faculty Research and Creative Projects.
Our traveling exhibition has been funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.