The church at 1 East High Street in East Hampton was built in 1855-1856 by residents on the north side of town who wanted to separate from the East Hampton Congregational Church. As described in the History of Middlesex County (1884):
The members of the ecclesiastical society, living in the vicinity of the lake, becoming dissatisfied with the location of the meeting house, in 1855 erected an edifice of stucco work, 56 feet in length. 35 feet in width. with a spire 120 feet in height, about three-fourths of a mile north of the old meeting house. It was finished in the summer of 1856, and in September of that year 25 persons who had been dismissed from the First Church for the purpose of organizing a new church, called a council of pastors and delegates from the neighboring churches. They were constituted a Christian church under the name and title of the Union Congregational Church of East Hampton.
The new church flourished during the religious revival of the 1860s, but attendance later declined and the church closed its doors in 1880. In the 1880s, the building was used by various town groups for meetings and entertainments. Around 1890, Swedish immigrants, who had been working at the Portland brownstone quarries, began settling in East Hampton. In 1898 they purchased the former Union Congregational Church, which was rededicated as the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The church is mentioned in an article entitled “The Town of Chatham,” (Chatham was renamed East Hampton in 1915) that appeared in The Connecticut Magazine, Vol. V, No. 6, June, 1899:
The Lutherans of Swedish descent having become quite numerous in this place have for some time held services in private houses. The service is conducted by Rev. L. P. Ahlquist of Portland, one of the foremost of the Swedish Lutheran ministers in the United States. The Lutheran communicants of East Hampton have recently purchased the edifice which was once used by the Union Congregational Church, at the corner of Main and High Streets, renovated it, and dedicated it as the place of their worship, Sunday, May 14, 1899, with impressive services. These recent comers from the northern part of Europe are like the last preceding mentioned [Irish Catholics], giving the native-born citizens good examples in the neat appearance of their church and its surroundings.
The Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church‘s appearance has been altered over the years. The rear parish hall was built in 1957. The church’s exterior fieldstone walls were refinished in 1978 to resemble sandstone blocks. The original steeple was removed in 1888 and replaced. The current steeple was erected within the last 30 years.
The brick Greek Revival house at 354 Main Street in Cromwell was built c. 1840 by Charles H. Hubbard, a mason born in Litchfield. Hubbard married Nancy Haskell of Middletown in 1839 and lived on River Road in Cromwell before moving to his new house. Hubbard died in 1847 and his family sold the house to Eunice Sage, widow of Dewitt C. Sage, in 1865.
The Greek Revival house at 1 Babcock Road in North Stonington was built c. 1830-1840. There is a barn on the property (east of the house) that was used as a cider mill, a blacksmith shop, and then a paint shop by William J. Richmond.
In 1843, 123 members of the First Congregational Church of Guilford who were strongly anti-slavery decided to form their own church, the Abolition Church, later renamed the Third Congregational Church of Guilford. These members had been refused permission by First Church to hold meetings of the local Anti-Slavery Society. They were also supporters of Rev. Aaron Dutton, First Church’s minister from 1806 to 1842, who had resigned due to dissensions within the congregation over his abolitionist stance. As related in The History of Guilford, Connecticut (1877), by Ralph D. Smith:
The present house of worship was built in 1844, and dedicated to the service of God, January 1, 1845. It was remodeled in 1862, and supplied with a suitable organ in 1873.
A chapel at the rear was added in 1879. By 1919 church membership had dwindled. The congregation of Third Church rejoined First Church and sold the building (49 Park Street) to Christ Church for use as a parish house. The building‘s steeple was removed in the 1920s because it had begun to lean. For several years, the former church was used as a movie theater, a kindergarten and a dancing school. In 1933 the building was sold again and renamed the Chapel Playhouse. It was converted for use by a summer stock theater group, the New York-Guilford players, and for the Guilford Town Players. The Christian Science Society bought the building in 1951 and restored it, changing their name in 1955 to the First Church of Christ, Scientist.
February is Black History Month! Starting in 1821, free blacks in Bridgeport settled in a neighborhood that would become known as Little Liberia. Only two houses of this nineteenth-century neighborhood survive today on their original foundations. They are also the oldest remaining houses in Connecticut built by free blacks, before the state completed its gradual abolition of slavery. Built in 1848-1849, they were the homes of sisters Mary (1815-1883) and Eliza (1805-1862) Freeman. Initially the sisters leased the houses out as rental properties while they continued to live and work in New York City. Mary’s house, 358-360 Main Street, built first, was either originally, or later added to to become, a two-family house. Eliza house, 352-354 Main Street, is a three-bay wide half-house with a side entrance that had a storefront extended from the facade from 1903 to 2013. A dormer window was added to the house around 1862. Eliza Freeman returned to Bridgeport around 1855, where she worked as a servant for a sea captain. Mary Freeman, who had worked as a hotel chef in New York, followed her sister to Bridgeport around 1861.
The buildings were occupied into the 1980s. By 2010, the houses were vacant and near collapse. The Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community was soon formed to raise funds to preserve and restore the houses as a museum. Non-historic elements of the houses were removed in 2012. Read the rest of this entry »
The Shailer family of Haddam comprised a large portion of the membership of the Baptist Church that formed in 1792 and built a church on the south side of what was then called the Middlesex Turnpike in 1822. A new and larger church was built across the street in 1833, at what is now 1338 Saybrook Road in Haddam. The church closed its doors in 1907 and has since been used for other purposes, including a pottery studio and residence.