Churches

Along with banks and gas stations, one of the things Ludlow has in great abundance is churches. In this little town we have 11 churches. Until the middle of the 19th century there was no separation between church and state. This meant that for many years there was only a single church in town and that church was also the site of town meetings. Eventually both the separation of church and state and the influx of new people coming to live in Ludlow led to several new churches being constructed, each with its own history.

The First Church in Ludlow

This church organization is as old as the town, its history beginning in 1774 along with the town. The meeting house near the center of town today was also the very first church in town and Peletiah Chapin was the first minister. According to Ebenezer Wright, who was a town minister in the 19th century, the church was organized in 1789 as a Congregationalist society and had no more than 15 members at this time. The town then had several ministers come and go as they searched for a long term minister for their new church. It was not until 1793 that they succeeded in finding Mr. Antipas Steward to be the minister of the First Church. Now that the church had its own minister, the need arose for a communion set as well. This search was soon ended when the people of the First Church in Springfield donated their old pewter communion set to the new Ludlow Church. This set would be used by the church for over fifty years, until the church was given a new set in 1846. Unfortunately, the people soon grew discontented towards Mr. Steward most likely due to his beliefs as both a British loyalist and autocratic minister. After repeated attempts to force the minister out of town, the town was finally able to rid itself of him in 1803. In 1841 a new church was constructed next to the old meetinghouse as the meeting house needed repairs and its members wanted a new place of worship. On January 15, 1859, the new church was burned down, the cause unknown. While a new church was being built church services were once again held in the old meeting house, despite an offer from the Methodist Church on Miller Street to use their church. The new church was opened on December 7, 1859. The church also merged with the Christian Church in 1931 and the Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1959 and became part of the United Church of Christ. On July 14, 1980 the church burned down again and another new building was built in its place that still stands today at the center of town. Although it was believed that someone caused the second fire, there was no evidence to support this.

Ludlow Center Methodist Church

Ludlow Center Methodist Church

In the early 19th century the Methodist movement started to gain traction in Ludlow. Originally the Methodists had to worship in the homes of their preachers, but were able to build a church in 1827 through donations. This was mainly due to the fact that the Congregationalists had control over the town meetings and had no interest in helping the Methodists build a church. This was despite the fact that the two organizations have little differences and that the First Church had hired Methodist ministers in the past to preach at their church. It is important to note that one of the greatest Ludlow historians, Alfred Noon, was a pastor of this church during the town's centennial celebration in 1874. One of the best sources of information on the history of Ludlow is his book, which can now be viewed for free online (see the links page). In 1905, the congregation decided to move to Ludlow village and build a new church there as that is where the majority of the population was living. This church, which was located on Miller Street near Center Street, was later demolished.

Saint Paul's Methodist Church

Saint Paul's Methodist Church

Built on land donated by the Ludlow Manufacturing Associates in 1904, this church was dedicated on January 4, 1905. It has undergone several renovations over the years and still stands on the corner of Sewall and Winsor Streets. This church is still in use by the Methodists today.

Jenksville Methodist Church

This church was built in 1847 by a group of Methodists that had shared the Union Church with the Congregationalists until they had conflicts over each groups privileges in that church. It was constructed just north of the Union Church and was supported by money from the Springfield Manufacturing Company which unfortunately went out of business in 1848 (most of the churches members worked at the SMC mills). This led to the church being closed in that same year, unable to reopen due to the fact that it was now in debt. The building was then bought by the Methodist Episcopal Society of Warren and moved to the town of Warren. Although the moving of buildings was not unheard of at this time, moving an entire church to the town of Warren in 1863 was probably not easy. McChesney notes also that at the time all of the bridges leaving town were covered bridges. The building was later destroyed by a fire in the 1950's.

The Union Church of Christ

Union Church in 1845

This church was dedicated on Christmas day of 1845. This church was run mainly by the Congregationalists who shared it with the Methodists for a few years as referenced above. When the Springfield Manufacturing Company closed in 1848, this church was also affected just as the Jenksville Methodist Church was. Most of this churches members, being employed at these mills, left town in search of work causing the church membership to decline sharply. Although church service had to stop being regularly held until 1867, this church managed to survive long enough to see its membership go back up again in that year. It was also necessary for the church to include other Christian denominations and called the Church of Christ in Ludlow Mills. In 1904 the church had extensive work done to it and was re-dedicated in 1905. Over the years, ownership of the church would change hands several times, starting with the Ludlow Manufacturing Company and ending up becoming an independent church. It was incorporated as the Union Church of Christ on June 16, 1936 and is also a member of the United Church of Christ along with the First Church at the center of Ludlow.

Union Church in 1905

Saint Elizabeth Parish (f/k/a Saint John the Baptist Church)

Saint John the Baptist Church

The creation of this church is a direct result of the large number of French-Canadians coming to Ludlow towards the end of the 19th century. This church was built on land donated by the Ludlow Manufacturing Associates (formerly the Ludlow Manufacturing Company) on Hubbard Street near the mills. This church and its rectory to the west were both completed in 1906 and on June 24 it was dedicated. A school and convent were also completed in 1926. Before the Portuguese people had their own parish in Ludlow, Father Chabot from Saint John's welcomed the Portuguese to this church and even learned to speak Portuguese so that he could hold special services for them. This church has had a large following since it was created and is still very active today but is now known as the Saint Elizabeth Parish due to its merging with the parish of Saint Mary of the Assumption Church.

Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church

St. Andrew Episcopal Church

Episcopal Church services in Ludlow were first held in the Masonic building in 1904. Then, on Thanksgiving Day of 1905, the first Episcopal Church in Ludlow was dedicated known as Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church. The church was constructed on land provided by the L.M.A. at the corner of East and Hampden Streets. This church also briefly held services for the members of Saint Gregory's Armenian Church in Indian Orchard when their church burned down. In 1997 this church closed but as it did William and Linda Koss, who were members of the church, decided to remove the cornerstone as a souvenir. When they did, they discovered an undocumented time capsule containing some old newspapers, church documents, and the first edition of Alfred Noon's "History of Ludlow, Massachusetts."

Saints Peter and Paul Church

At the turn of the 20th century a few Ukrainian families had settled in Ludlow. Initially these families were so few that a priest would travel from Connecticut once a month to give services to the few families in Ludlow. Initially these services were done in private homes, leading to many being baptized on kitchen tables. Later spaces were rented for services as the amount of Ukrainians in Ludlow started to grow. A parish had formed by 1916 and in 1923 a two family house was bought on Lockland Street and used as a church. As the parish continued to grow they were able to fund the construction of a church and on July 24, 1960, the Saints Peter and Paul Church was completed on Newbury Street.

Christ the King Church

As the L.M.C. grew at the end of the 19th century, so did the number of Polish immigrating into Ludlow. Eventually the mills employed several thousand Polish workers. At the time the only way for these people to go to church would be to take a trolley to the nearest Polish Catholic Church in Chicopee. As this was rather expensive to do at the time, the people wanted a church of their own. This led to the Church of the Immaculate Conception being built in Indian Orchard not long after the turn of the century. As this church grew, it became necessary to divide the parish between Indian Orchard and Ludlow. On May 17, 1942 Christ the King Church was completed in a triangle between Center Street, Sewall Street, and Warsaw Ave. This church has never had a shortage of members and has grown considerably over the years.

Our Lady of Fatima Church

When the Portuguese first started to arrive in Ludlow in 1910, they relied on other churches for prayer services and it would not be until 1948 that they formed a parish. The parish of Our Lady of Fatima had its first mass on January 18, 1948 in the Gremio Lusitano Club building on Winsor Street. Services continued to be held at the Lusitano Club until the parish had enough funding to build their own church. On September 5, 1949, Our Lady of Fatima Church was completed on Winsor Street on land donated by the L.M.A. The cornerstone of the building came from Fatima, Portugal, where it is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to three children in 1917.

Saint Mary of the Assumption Church

This church was completed on January 22, 1950 to serve the Italian families that had imigrated to Ludlow. It is located on East Street between Cedar Street and Yale Street. Much of the construction of this church was actually done by the members of the church. This church was also considered a mission church up until 1966 when it was decided to end the churches mission status. Unfortunately, Saint Mary of the Assumption Church was one of many Catholic churches in the area that was closed in 2010 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield. Its parishioners merged with those from Saint John the Baptist Church to create the new Saint Elizabeth Parish. The building was sold to the Protestant Evangelical Church of the Nazarene in January of 2012 for $750,000.