Thursday, November 10, 2011

Those Places Thursday: St. Raphael's, Manchester, NH

 Located in Manchester's West Side on Walker St., St Raphael's Church was where, on January 24, 1943, my father was baptized. His sister Rose, who was almost 23 years his senior, and her husband, Leonce Chandonnet, were his godparents.

[Baptisms of Hillsboro County, St Raphael, Manchester, NH, 1888 - 2001, v.2, p. ; Manchester, NH : American-Canadian Genealogical Society, [2008]]

In 1943 , my grandfather,  Joseph Robillard, lived at 28 Second Street, which is located in the same West Side neighborhood as St. Raphael's. Employed by the Stephen Spinning Co. as a foreman, which I believe was located at 186 Granite (also in the same neighborhood), he lived there with his wife, my grandmother, Louise Wright, and I can only surmise, their younger children as well. Also, listed in the directory at this same address, is my uncle Joe who was 25 years my father's senior, and in the Navy at the time.

The pictures above are of a newly constructed church. Well, newly constructed in 1964, that is. The original church, in which my father was baptized, is located on the corner of 3rd and Ferry Streets, behind this "new" church.

According to the parish website, St Raphael's was founded in 1888, with the first public Mass being said on Easter Sunday at the Harrington Hose Co. building, which was also located in Manchester's West Side.

From Wikipedia :
In 1889, Denis M. Bradley, the first bishop of Manchester, New Hampshire, requested that Abbot Boniface Wimmer send monks to his diocese to create a school for French and Irish immigrants. The bishop thought that in order to create harmony among the people of his diocese the best educators for them should be German.[2] Monks from Saint Mary's Abbey in Morristown, New Jersey, were sent to found Saint Anselm Abbey in 1889.[3] When they arrived they founded St. Raphael's Parish in Manchester, and they founded Saint Anselm Preparatory School, which would later become Saint Anselm College.

When I was at St. Raphael's, some time ago, I must have been in the right place at the right time, because while I was taking photos of the church and it's grounds, I met a woman who works in the administrative offices at the school there. She invited me into the old building in which the original church was housed and shared a bit it's history with me. She told me that my father would have been baptized in the basement, as that was where the masses were held at the time. I thought it odd, but then she explained to me that the original building, which you can see above, was not only a church, but held inside it was also a school, rectory, convent, and an auditorium. I was told that the outside of the original building has changed a bit since it was first built in 1891, the top two floors were taken off sometime in 1964 and an entrance to the building was dug out and added at the basement level as well. She then gave me a print (8/125) of a drawing, dated 2006, of the original building, pre 1964, which was sketched in pencil by her brother.

1 comment:

  1. I used to bring my Girl Scout troop to the annual Boy Scout/ Girl Scout dance at that church in the 1990s. I recognized it right away!