Former Church of Christ, Scientist | Packard Gallery
A great circle was closed in 1988 when the artist Anne (Locke) Packard bought 418 Commercial Street as a gallery for her works and those of her daughters, Cynthia and Leslie. Up until 1970, this had been owned by the Christian Science Society, which used it as a church and reading room. As it happened, Packard’s grandfather, the painter Max Bohm, was one of the more prominent Christian Scientists in town, though he did not live long enough to have attended services here.
Up until 1918, this was the Rideout property. The Christian Science Society was worshiping in the G.A.R. Hall at that time. Viola Rideout sold the land that year to Eliza A. Kaesche, who passed it on to Emma D. Kaesche, who made two grants to the Christian Science Society, in 1926 and 1931. Since services were being conducted in Marine Hall, 96 Commercial Street, as late as 1929, and since a Reading Room was operating at No. 418 that same year, I’m guessing that the Reading Room was constructed first, with the sanctuary following. In any case, both were conducted at No. 418 by January 1931.
The building was used for worship less than 40 years. Indeed, it’s now been in secular hands longer than it was in religious service. The Christian Science Society sold it in 1970 to Jane C. Potter and Mary B. Walley, who sold it in 1971 to David A. Bowdoin, who sold it in 1977 to Dennis Shaul, who sold it in 1987 to Eva Stuart, who sold it in 1988 to Anne Packard.
Packard was born in 1933 in Hyde Park, N.Y. Her mother was Esther (Bohm) Locke, daughter of Max Bohm. She started painting in earnest in the early 1960s and fairly quickly found an admirer in Robert Motherwell, who snapped up some of her first works. She studied with Philip Malicoat in Provincetown and at Bard College. Her daughter Cynthia (b 1957) studied at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and then, after coming to town in 1980, with Fritz Bultman. Cynthia’s sister Leslie (b 1959) is the director of the Packard Gallery and a painter in her own right.