Tidbits from Then and Now

#23 - Father Boylan and the Building of St. Peter's Church

The early 19th century was filled with great leaders of men, forging the way in a spiritual and civic manner for the future of their community. They were giants in the land. In Rutland there were many of them, among them was Father Charles J. Boylan who came to Rutland in 1857 as pastor of St. Peter's Parish. At that time the church was located on lower Meadow Street. The parish outgrew the small church and in 1867, the "Ledge Lot" on Mechanics Street (now Convent Avenue) was purchased. A New York architect, Patrick C. Keely, was secured to design the new St. Peter's Church. Construction began in 1868. Stone was quarried from the very spot where the church was to be located and when the bed of stone was leveled, the church foundation was placed upon it. After working their regular hours all day, the men of the parish toiled along with Fr. Boylan to construct a magnificent building.

Father Boylan was involved in many civic organizations and was beloved throughout the area. He died on 4 December 1886, and on the day of his funeral, factories, schools and many stores were closed. The words of Dr. Charles Woodhouse indicate the city's high regard for Father Boylan. "Rutland has great cause to be thankful that a man so wise, thoughtful, liberal and competent has …lived so long and labored so efficiently for her interests as did Father Charles J. Boylan. There is not a foot of ground in Rutland today that has not been enhanced in permanent value because of his having lived and been among us." Father Boylan is buried beside the church he built and loved. In 1889 a memorial statue was erected and stands today over his grave.

As the parish began a restoration of the church of 1873 Bishop Kenneth Angell commented: "As the 'mother church' of Rutland County you have a proud history. You also have a bright future … as we move into the next century. …Your willingness to provide for the restoration and preservation of your beautiful church is an appropriate continuation of the sacrifice made by your parents, grandparents and great-grandparents in years gone by. Through your efforts, now St. Peter's will continue to welcome parishioners for decades to come."