First Spiritualist Church on the move to new location

Historic church was located on Bliss Street, in middle of MGM's planned casino

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Reverend John Sullivan captured one last memory of the First Spiritualist Church the way he remembered it, as its pastor, for 26 years.

“”It’s just a building. But we’re glad to see that it’s being kept so that we have part of history here with this new MGM complex,” Sullivan said.

The Reverend said he was glad to sell the church to MGM in 2013: The 130 year old building desperately needed renovations. Now, its $800,000 relocation from the middle of the MGM casino site on Bliss Street to a new location on Union Street is a true engineering feat.

For weeks, we’ve watched the church slowly raised off its foundation and onto this structure. And then Tuesday, after a short ceremony, the building began to move, slowly – so slowly, we didn’t notice at first.

While it is being preserved, it is not exactly clear what the church will be used for in its new location.

“What’s it going to be? We’re still trying to figure that out, actually. We definitely know it will be a food and beverage outlet, or retail outlet,” said Brian Packer, Vice President of Construction and Development for MGM Springfield.

Once the church is relocated, there are two other preservation projects as part of MGM Springfield’s design. The second one is preserving the facade on the old Union Chandler Hotel. The third project is preserving part of 73 State Street.

Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said moving the Church was a sign of progress in the City.

“About creating and enhancing and bringing more and more jobs, thousands of good paying jobs, with historic preservation, where it made sense, and where the money was able to do that,” Sarno said.

MGM Springfield is expected to open in 2018.

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