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Incorporated in 1834, the establishment of Grace Episcopal Church was met with distrust and suspicion due to the association of the Tories with the Episcopal church in post-Revolutionary War New Bedford. With courage and determination, the Grace Church persevered and its parish grew due to the changing economy within New Bedford, as manufacturing slowly replaced the whaling industry in the 19th century drawing more Episcopalians to the community. Built in 1881, the church’s current structure was designed in the High Victorian Gothic style by the architects Ware and Van Brunt of Boston. In 1987, a fire was set, which destroyed the interior of the church. Shortly afterwards, Grace Church adopted the Phoenix as a symbol of its rebirth when it undertook the four years of rebuilding. Perhaps the Phoenix may also serve as a testament to the church’s ability to persevere despite adversities since its first days serving the New Bedford community.
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