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Churches' Interiors as Landmarks

Designation as a historical landmark may violate a church's rights.

• The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that the City of Boston could not declare a church's interior as a "landmark." Faced with an aging, oversized building, the leaders of a Catholic church adopted a plan to renovate the facility into office, counseling, and residential space. When work began, ten citizens promptly asked the city to designate the interior of the church as a landmark. The city approved the citizens' request, and prohibited permanent alteration of "the nave, chancel, vestibule and organ loft on the main floor—the volume, window glazing, architectural detail, finishes, painting, the organ, and organ case." Church leaders filed a lawsuit, claiming that their constitutional right to freely exercise their religion was violated by the city' action. The court agreed. It relied entirely on a provision in the state constitution specifying that "no subject shall ...

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Posted:
  • January 1, 1992

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