Grace Universalist/St. George Hellenic Orthodox Church
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2011, the Grace Universalist/St. George Hellenic Orthodox Church is located at 44 Princeton Boulevard. Built in 1896, the church is an eclectic mix of Romanesque, Beaux Arts, and Classical Revival stylistic details. It originally housed the Second Universalist Society of Lowell, who built a church on Shattuck Street at the corner of Market Street in 1838. Universalism had come to Lowell in 1826 and its focus was social reform and the treatment of the women and children workers in the mills. As downtown continued to grow, the parish moved here to the rapidly developing Highlands neighborhood of Lowell. The most impressive feature of the church is the 70 foot diameter dome, the largest existing masonry dome in Massachusetts, and one of the earliest designed by the R. Guastavino Fireproof Company.
Rafael Guastavino, Jr. designed and constructed the church's masonry dome using the Tile Arch System, a structural tiling system which was patented by his father Rafael Guastavino Sr. in 1885. Guastavino, Jr. went on to install masonry vaulting and domes in many Beaux-Art architectural works, such as the dome over the crossing of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York (1911) and the ceiling of the Registry Hall at Ellis Island (1917). Lowell boasts several buildings with work by the Guastavino Company, including the entrance portico of Southwick Hall (1897) located on the North Campus of UMass-Lowell.
Grace Universalist sold the church to the St. George Hellenic Orthodox Society in 1973. St. George Parish had been formed in 1928, occupying the former Worthen Baptist Church from 1928 until a fire destroyed the building in 1973. Grace Universalist was renovated for Greek Orthodox use, including erecting an iconostasis and the addition of Orthodox iconography “written” by famed iconographer George Filippakis.