CENTER FOR LOWELL HISTORY UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS LOWELL LIBRARIES

Home     Digital Photographs     Genealogy Resources     Special Collections     Search
 
WE THE PORTUGUESE
 
     These occurrences were the catalyst for the next wave of Portuguese immigration.  Due to the influence of Portuguese groups within their constituencies, Senators John Pastore of Rhode Island and John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts co-sponsored a congressional bill in 1958, referred to as the Azorean Refugee Act, which permitted the issuance of extra visas to accommodate recent earthquake victims.  After the 1964 Sao Jorge earthquake, Senator Edward M. Kennedy joined the cause of Azorean relief advocated by his late brother.  In 1965 the New Immigration and Nationality Act came into effect, eliminating the quota system that had stemmed the flow of Portuguese immigration for so long.

Lowell's Portuguese Community
Throughout the years, Portuguese settling in this area have built a strong, steadfast community.  At the beginning, as was true with most early immigrants, those coming to work in the mills stayed at local boarding houses.  About 1862, the first of the "Portuguese" boarding houses were established. Casas de borde, as they were called, were numerous by the turn of the century with at least ten set up along back Central, Charles, Chapel, Union, Cherry,  North, and other neighboring streets.

     As time went on, despite strict disciplinary rules, these casas de borde became one of the main places where young single people made acquaintances.  Many would eventually marry and make their permanent residences in the same areas that the boarding houses had occupied.  The neighborhood between Lawrence and Gorham Streets has become the nucleus of the Portuguese community past and present.  Throughout the years, the Portuguese residents have diligently fixed their homes, planted colorful gardens reminiscent of the old country, and carried on cultural traditions that continue to give the city of Lowell its splendid ethnic diversity.

     One of the first orders of business was to introduce a place of worship in their new city.  Generally strong in their Catholic faith, the Portuguese immigrants wished to establish a church in which they could understand the language and experience religious customs particular to their own heritage.  Therefore, in 1901 the parish community of Saint Anthony's Church was established.  At first it was necessary to meet in the Hall of St. Peter's Parish, but by May of that year, a small, white wooden structure on the corner of Gorham and Congress Streets was purchased from the Primitive Methodists.  In 1908, construction began on a new structure on back Central Street which could accommodate the growing congregation.  After more than 90 years as a parish community, St. Anthony's Church still remains the focal point of the Portuguese neighborhood, continuing colorful traditional feasts and religious celebrations.

Top Of Page    Previous Page or Next Page