Immaculate Conception

98 Summer St.

98 Summer St.

 

Weekend Masses:

  • Saturday, 4:00 PM, preceded by recitation of the Rosary at 3:30 PM
  • Sunday, 8:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 4:30 PM

 

Confessions:

  • Saturday, 3:00 PM
  • Sunday, 3:45 PM

 

Holy Day Masses (usually):

  • 12:10 PM
  • 7:00 PM

 

This church is open for prayer:

  • 7:00 AM – 6:00 PM

 

Directions to this church

For Google map directions,  click here.

For narrative directions:  to Immaculate Conception Church, 98 Summer St. from I-95

From north or south

Exit 7, Market St.

If you are coming from the north, turn left at the bottom of the ramp; if you are coming from the south, turn right at the bottom of the ramp.

Proceed approximately .75 miles, staying in the right lane.  After crossing the railroad tracks, bear right onto Russell St. and proceed to the Stop sign (Deer St.)  Turn right onto Deer St. stay to the left and proceed to the traffic light (Maplewood Ave.)  Turn left onto Maplewood Ave. and proceed two blocks to the second traffic light (Islington St.)  Turn right onto Islington St. and proceed about 500 yards to your first left (Summer St.)  Turn left onto Summer St. and proceed two blocks to the church on the right.

 

A brief history of Immaculate Conception:

As the first parish in Portsmouth – originally known as St. Mary’s – Immaculate Conception has also been labeled the “mother church” of St. Catherine of Siena and St. James parishes, which were established in the 1950s.

The first Masses in Portsmouth were celebrated in 1833 in the Dominick Peduzzi home above Mr. Peduzzi’s Confectionery store located on the corner of High and Congress streets.  The first regular Catholic services were celebrated by Fr. Constantine Lee, and by 1836, Portsmouth was organized as a mission of St. Aloysius Church of Dover, of which Fr. Lee was pastor.

Early in the 1850s, the congregation was on the order of 300 parishioners.  St. Mary’s was established as a parish in 1851, with Fr. Charles McCallion as its first pastor.  The parish acquired a parcel of land known as “Circus Field on Mason’s Hill” at the corner of Summer and Chatham streets.  A simple church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin on October 8, 1852.  It was destroyed in a suspicious fire November 27, 1871.  A brick church (not the current one) was built and dedicated April 9, 1874, and renamed Church of the Immaculate Conception.  At this time, it was part of the Diocese of Portland (Me.) and in 1884, transitioned to the Diocese of Manchester (N.H.) when the latter diocese was established.

A school had been built at 202 State Street in 1869, but the land was sold in 1873 to help fund construction of the first brick church.  In 1885, land adjoining Immaculate Conception church on Austin Street was purchased, on which was built St. Patrick School.  It opened in 1887, staffed by the Sisters of Mercy; school enrollment was 290.  With ever increasing enrollment, the present school and convent were built in 1904, and by 1915, there were some 500 children attending St. Pat’s.

By the early 1930s, the 1874 brick church was found to be structurally weak and too small to meet the needs of the growing parish.  Demolition of that church and construction of the present-day church occurred in 1933-34.  However, the stained glass windows of the old church were preserved and installed in the new one. (See the icon below to link to the widow gallery.) During that period, weekday Masses were celebrated in the school hall, and Sunday Masses in the Knights of Columbus Hall and in the Portsmouth Theater.  The new church opened for Easter 1934, and was formally dedicated October 21, 1934.  At this time, the parish numbered 906 families with 3,261 members; school enrollment was 444.

During and after World War II, Portsmouth’s population grew tremendously.  The school was overcrowded, and so a two-story annex was built in 1949 on what is now the rear parking lot of the church.  And with the church no longer able to accommodate all worshippers, a new parish, St. Catherine of Siena, was established in 1951 on Woodbury Avenue on land purchased by, and presented to, St. Catherine as a gift from Immaculate Conception.  Continued growth in Portsmouth resulted in the establishment of St. James the Greater parish on Lafayette Road in 1958.

Immaculate Conception Church Stained Glass Windows