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Letter: Architect’s role was missing from Quincy church story

Thanks to everyone who created the well-written article and the wonderful illustrations about Quincy’s First Parish Church. (“Towering achievement,’’ Feb. 26) As a Quincy native and granddaughter of two Swedish stonecutters, I admired the handsome building during the 18 years I worked at The Patriot Ledger across Temple Street from the church.

But I am puzzled that the story had no mention of the building’s architect, Alexander Parris. Born in Halifax, he apprenticed with a Pembroke carpenter and was architect of a number of buildings early in the 1800s. He worked in Charles Bulfinch’s office, and when Bulfinch went to Washington D.C., Parris took his place as Boston’s leading architect. His buildings reflected the Greek Revival style then popular and ranged from Boston’s St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral to Plymouth’s Pilgrim Hall.

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Josiah Quincy, Boston’s first mayor, hired Parris in 1824 to design and oversee construction of what is called today Quincy Marketplace. Mayor Quincy, a member of the First Parish Church in the city of Quincy, was so pleased with Parris’s work on the new marketplace that he recommended him for the job of building the city’s new church. The building’s design is another reflection of the Greek Revival style. Among Parris’s other major works are the Watertown Arsenal, the Chelsea Naval Hospital, and the long granite ropewalk at the Navy yard in Charlestown.

There’s much more to the story of Alexander Parris - the preceding is just a thimbleful of his accomplishments. But it is enough to show why I was disappointed when my reading of the otherwise excellent article found no mention of the South Shore’s most famous architect.

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