Early on the morning of January 14, 1872, Fr. Kremmen was awakened by the smell of smoke. A fire that started in a shed behind the rectory quickly engulfed it, spread to the church, and threatened the neighborhood. The next day’s newspaper recorded “The absence of a wind, the tin roof of the parsonage, and the fire extinguisher, are all that saved the fire from plowing a furrow of destruction through the business portion of our town.” (from the Southbridge Journal : January 19, 1872). Though Fr. Kremmen surmised that the fire had been set, he set about instead to rally his parish to recover from this devastating loss. The trees around the former rectory were felled and used to roll Saint Peter’s Church across the grounds to the site where it stood for well over a century until it was lost by fire on December 19, 1999. A new rectory was constructed and the church repaired in its new location. Then using the footprint of the original church, a new and larger temple for the glory of God was begun and would become what we enjoy today as Saint Mary Church.The cornerstone for the new church was blessed and laid on July 8, 1877 by Bishop O’Reilly of Springfield. The church is of Gothic architecture and is 102 feet long and 59 feet wide. It is in the shape of a cross, its transepts give it an extension to 90 feet, each being 35 feet wide. The walls are low, twenty feet from the ground since the roof is what is termed a brokenback, a combination of Elizabethan and Gothic pitch. The roof is steep, its peak being 65 feet from the ground. In the northeast corner, closest to the intersection of Hamilton and Marcy Streets is a bell tower that is two storied separated by building bands, the lower story has two windows on three sides and the upper story has triple windows on three sides. Above these are louvers which house a bronze cast bell. The distance to the top of the cross, gilded during renovations in 2000, is 102 feet. In 2000, the four smaller spires and slate of the original bell tower were replaced with copper shingle roofing.
The interior of the building is finished in the Gothic style. The nave is surmounted by an arch, which is repeated in the side aisles and the transepts are connected to the nave with an arch on each side that is fully groined at the center where the nave and transepts intersect. The chancel and side niches are also fully groined. There is a gallery on each side and a large organ gallery on the north end. The pews and wainscoting are ash with a black walnut trim. The remaining finish is plaster and the original intent was for it to be frescoed; that has never been realized. There windows are set in pairs. The exterior of the building is set off and improved by buttresses, pinnacles, porches and kneelers. Parish records detail it was built at a cost of $23,003.27.