Southbridge History
Notre Dame Church Building -
Dedication in 1916 after 5 year construction

Excerpt below from :
The History of Notre Dame Church – Southbridge Massachusetts
A Marvel of Renaissance Art by Albert N.LePain

In commemoration of the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of the Dedication of Notre Dame Church (1916-1991)

The Church Built of Tombstones

"At the time of the outbreak of the Spanish-American war, about ten years before the new Notre Dame Church was designed, the United States Government had ordered a large amount of white marble to be quarried in Lee, Massachusetts. The marble was to be cut into tombstones to be used for the casualties of the Spanish-American war. But the government miscalculated the number of casualties and the company had a large number of tombstones left over. Father Triganne heard about the surplus marble tombstones and was able to purchase all the marble at a bargain price for the church. Naturally, this did not include the marble trimmings. The tombstones were cut into oversized bricks, and after the church was finished, there was enough left over to provide the same matching marble façade for the west and north sides of the rectory (facing Marcy Street).

In 1912, as the building was progressing, the pastor wrote a letter to the Lee Marble Works complaining that some of the marble had streaks of copper or iron. Mr. W.H. Gross, proprietor of the quarries, assured the pastor that all the marble bricks had been taken from the ends of the headstone stock of American white marble as furnished under contract to the U.S. Government. Furthermore, he assured the pastor that all the marble quarried in New England was free of copper and iron, and that it would wear well. Over the years time has proven Gross right.

Notre Dame was built entirely of thick brick walls with a marble facing and a Spanish tile roof instead of slates. The style of roof has been used in Europe for centuries. There is no steel frame in the structure of the church except steel columns supporting the arches. The tower roof was also originally covered with red tiles but this proved hazardous. Whenever the tower was struck by lightning, the ground was covered with pieces of broken tile. The tower was capped in the early 1920’s with copper shaped like red tiles and aged in an acid bath, which accounts for its green color.

During the construction of the church, a great deal of sand had to be hauled from local sand banks to mix with the cement. Two teamsters were hired for the work. One of them was cheating by mixing dirt with sand, either to increase the profit or to make his work easier. After one wall was erected to a certain height, the architect, on one of his inspection trips, noticed the cement was streaking the marble. The culprit was caught and immediately dismissed. The wall that was streaked had to be demolished and rebuilt."


 


1954 Don Whitney photo of Wells High and Notre Dame Church


Printable version of above

Ken Sylvesri's recollections: Death of his Grandfather from a fall from Notre Dame Steeple
 


United Methodist Church Steeple at left and the Notre Dame Steeple on right (2007)


May 2009 photo from the porch of the Vienna Restaurant

Notre Dame Class of 1958 Reunion Page
Submitted by Irene V. (Zajac) Boudreau

Notre Dame's Website:
http://www.notredamesbge.4lpi.com/


View from newly contructed Notre Dame Church ~1915 (Courtesy of JEL Digital Treasures Collection
Nice view of American Optical Plant !


 


Dick Whitney

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Comments or Suggestions? e-mail dickwhitney@charter.net