After the Civil War, there was an influx of Irish immigrants arriving in South Manchester to work at the Cheney Brothers’ silk mill. The Cheneys donated an acre of land on Main Street where the cornerstone for a new Catholic church was laid in August of 1874. The silk factory was closed that day to allow full attendance of Catholic residents. In spite of the liberal attitude of the Cheneys, there was also anti-Catholic sentiment in Manchester. The unfinished church was vandalized during the night of May 4-5, 1876. Thirty-five stained glass windows were smashed, altar ornaments were stolen and the vandals attempted to set the church on fire. Work on Saint James Church continued and the Gothic edifice was dedicated on August 20, 1876.
The first Methodist Church in Rowayton in Norwalk was formed in 1839 and originally met in a one room building until a new church edifice was built on the site in 1867 and dedicated in 1868. When first built the church was a white clapboard, wood frame structure. It was remodeled to its present form in 1907. The church is located at 5 Pennoyer Street, just off Rowayton Avenue. The street was named for Elias Pennoyer, who had donated the land for the church.
Having made the trek to the Congregational church in Southbury each Sunday for three decades, residents of the South Britain section of town petitioned the General Assembly to have four months of winter preaching near their own homes. The South Britain Ecclesiastical Society was formed in 1766 and built a meeting house on the Green in 1770. The current South Britain Congregational Church, located at 693 South Britain Road north of the first building, was built in 1825. The interior was renovated in 1869, when the pediments over the three front doors were also changed from semi-circular fanlights to one curvilinear and two triangular pediments (more in keeping with the Greek Revival style).
The building at 130 Main Street in Wethersfield was built as a Methodist church and is today a synagogue. The first Methodist sermon in Wethersfield was preached in 1790 by Jesse Lee in the North Brick School House, now the site of Standish Park. Wethersfield was visited by itinerant Methodist preachers until a circuit preacher for Wethersfield, Newington, New Britain, and Kensington was appointed in 1821. Early services were held at Academy Hall until the Methodist Episcopal Church was built at 130 Main Street in 1824. The church was moved 26 feet onto a new stone foundation in 1882. A fire in 1941 destroyed the church’s original Sunday school addition of 1913 and damaged the sanctuary. The church was repaired and a new Sunday school addition, twice as large, was constructed. The church soon outgrew its 1824 building and in 1959 moved to a new church at 150 Prospect Street.
The Jewish Community Group of Wethersfield was formed in 1954. The group purchased the former Methodist Church on Main Street in 1960 and adopted the name Temple Beth Torah. The building was converted to become a synagogue and the new Temple’s Day of Dedication was celebrated on May 28, 1961. Work began in 1964 to give the Temple a new facade. The former church’s steeple was removed and a new entrance in the colonial revival style was added.
The village of North Stonington in the Town of North Stonington was developed in the nineteenth century as a mill village and was called Milltown. Inspired by the evangelism Jabez S. Swan, first pastor of the Huntington Street Baptist Church in New London, a group of Milltown residents gathered at the home of Samuel Chapman to form a Baptist church on December 25, 1828. It was the Third Baptist Church in North Stonington, following the First Baptist Church (formed in 1743) and the Second Baptist Church (formed in 1765). The Third Baptist Church initially held its services in private homes and in the District #2 Schoolhouse. Its membership grew and a church, called the Milltown Baptist Meeting House, was built in 1833 at what is now 29 Main Street on land donated by Mrs. Stephen Avery, widow of Stephen Avery. North Stonington’s Fourth Baptist Church, also known as the Laurel Glen Chapel, was dismantled in 1940 and attached to the rear of the Third Baptist Church.
At 455 West Avenue in Norwalk, at the corner of Butler Street, is a former church that was later converted into a retail store. It was built as the First Church of Christ, Scientist. The first services were held in the building on October 28, 1935 and the church’s dedication services were held on December 29, 1935.
Episcopal services in Fairfield were first held by visiting ministers starting in 1705. Trinity Parish was established in 1725 and its first church was built on Mill Plain in Fairfield. A new and larger church was built in 1737 in the center of Fairfield. During the Revolutionary War, the church was burned during the British raid on Fairfield in 1779. Trinity’s third church building was erected after the war on Mill Plain Road in 1790. In the early nineteenth century, the Borough of Southport in Fairfield was flourishing. The first Episcopal services in Southport were held in 1828 in the house at 95 Main Street. As attendance grew, services were held at the Old Academy. Eventually Trinity constructed its next building, affectionately called “The Old Church on the Hill,” in 1829 on Rose Hill Drive in Southport to serve the growing community. The first Southport church burned down in 1854, so it was replaced by a new church on Pequot Road in 1856. That same year, parishioners in the center of Fairfield, who felt that the Southport church was too far away, established St. Paul’s Parish. Trinity’s fifth building survived until it was destroyed in 1862 when a tornado caused the steeple to crash down through the roof. The current Trinity Episcopal Church was quickly built on the foundations of its predecessor and dedicated on December 11 of that same year.