By George Ostler
Between the years of 1870 and 1914, nearly two (2) million Polish immigrants arrived in the United States. Many of these immigrants settled in Chelsea during the city’s industrial growth years. The Polish immigrants proved to be family oriented, devoutly adherent, to the church and full of patriotic love for the adopted land. Being very industrious, they worked at the hardest and most ill paying jobs, still believing life here was better than the one they left.
A mass meeting of the Polish residents was held on October 20, 1903 at which plans were formulated for a Polish parish. In an act of consolidation, the Chestnut Street Congregational Church, one of three Congregational churches in Chelsea, was put up for sale. On July 2, 1905 the church building was purchased by the Polish residents of Chelsea. The first mass was celebrated by Rev. William Powers, pastor of St. Rose Church. One week later, Fr. Jerzy Jaskolski, OFM was installed as the first Pastor for the Polish parish of Chelsea.
April 12, 1908, the devastating Chelsea Fire swept through the city leveling everything in its path. All parish property, including the church and rectory, was destroyed. The massive steeple that acted like a beacon, toppled to the ground in a mass of flames. All the labor of the past few months, was lost in a matter of minutes.
After the fire, mass was held at the Scenic Temple on Second Street, corner of Chestnut Street. Fr. Jaskolski worked tirelessly to rebuild the church, damaging his health in the process. During this time, Fr. Jaskolski was living in the basement of 72 Broadway and later 4 Chestnut Street. By 1910 Fr. Jaskolski’s health had deteriorated so badly he had to leave the parish. Fr. Jerzy Jaskolski passed away, a very young man.
Fr. Alfons Figlewski succeeded Fr. Jaskolski, and in 1912 the new church was dedicated. Fr. Cyprian Adamski took over as pastor in 1914, remaining until his death, May 31, 1939. During his span of 45 years as pastor, he built a school in 1919, and a new convent in 1922. Fr. Adamski created many orginizations within the church. One of these orginizations was instrumental in the dedication of a park in Chelsea Square. In 1931, the park in Chelsea Square was dedicated to a hero of the American Revolution, General Kazimierz Pulaski. The “Father Adamski Memorial Highway,” a section of the Northeast Expressway running through Chelsea, was dedicated to the pastor’s memory.
Fr. Adamski was succeeded by Fr. Marcel Szymanski OFM. Fr. Szymanski passed away, four years after taking over from Fr. Adamski. Fr. Callistus Szpara OFM served as pastor for the next 17 years. Succeeding Fr. Szpara as pastor, Fr. Jerome A. Holubowicz built a recreational area for children near the church.
Through the efforts of a dedicated and faithful Polish parish community, the St. Stanislaus Church continues to celebrate weekly masses. The St. Stanislaus community successfully emerged through an archdiocesan reorganization and potential closing. The school was rented for a time to the City of Chelsea as the Williams School Annex. The school is closed today, but the church continues to function as an integral part of the Chelsea Polish community.