Boston’s Hidden Sacred Spaces

In addition to the historic churches, temples and mosques that dot the Boston skyline, sacred spaces are hidden around the edges of the city, just out of view. These chapels, meditation spaces and prayer rooms serve a spiritual mission within otherwise secular institutions. Some were designed by well-known architects while others were created informally by people desiring a small retreat. They may be familiar and accessible or truly hidden from public view, but they all invite passers-by to pause, sit for a moment, and reflect. We have identified and documented more than 60 sacred spaces in and around greater Boston. Sites include municipal buildings, shopping malls, military installations, schools and universities, health care organizations, prisons, mental health centers, cemeteries, senior living communities and rehabilitation centers. An exhibition of these photographs is touring. Try our curricular materials here. Check out the photographs of the first chapel at Boston’s Logan airport and the former chapel at Boston’s South Station. We recently started a pilot collaboration with WBUR and Walking Cinema to produce radio pieces and immersive ways to view three of the sites with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This is a collaborative project with architectural historian Alice Friedman (Wellesley College), and photographer Randall Armor. It is supported through grants provided by the Theodore and Jane Norman Fund For Faculty Research and Creative Projects Brandeis University and Wellesley College. 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. Our new collaboration with WBUR and Walking Cinema is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Site: Boston’s Hidden Sacred Spaces

Photo of Randall Armor (© Stephen Borack)