The religious sentiment of Willimantic is now represented by six churches, viz., Congregational, Methodist, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Protestant Episcopal and Spiritualist. These have all been built up here since the year 1827. Up to the close of that year there was no church nearer than Windham Centre, nor any stated meetings except such as were held in a school house or in private houses. In the year mentioned a few persons here applied to the directors of the Connecticut Domestic Missionary Society for a minister. [. . .]
January 22d, 1828, an ecclesiastical council was called, of which Doctor Samuel Nott, of Franklin, was chosen moderator, and this council organized the First Congregational church of Willimantic. [. . .]
A church edifice was immediately erected, and was dedicated October 17th, 1828, Doctor Joel Hawes preaching the sermon. This was the first house of worship in the place. The expense of building it was a burden from which those who undertook it delivered themselves only after a determined struggle. The present society was formed soon after the church was built. [. . .] In 1843 the house of worship was considerably enlarged. [. . .]
On the acceptance of the call of Reverend Horace Winslow, the question of a new house of worship was earnestly advocated, and on February 24th, 1869, the society resolved to proceed to the work, and accordingly appointed a building committee composed of John Tracy, Allen Lincoln, William C. Jillson and the pastor elect. In July of that year the corner stone was laid, and in one year from that time the main edifice was dedicated to the worship of God. The expenses of this enterprise were provided for in various ways. To begin with, the society had from subscriptions and the sale of the old house $19,578. This fund was steadily increased by special efforts, so that when the main portion of the building was completed the debt was only a little over $9,000. In May, 1871, the chapel was completed and dedicated to the service of God. In about a year from that time it was proposed to pay off the whole debt of the society, which amounted then to $12,600. This amount was raised by the 1st of October, 1872. The whole cost of church, grounds, chapel, furniture, organ and all, amounted to $46,700, and it had all been paid, so that the society was free from debt. A service of praise and gratulation was held in view of the auspicious financial condition. Since then money has been raised and the chapel and adjoining rooms have been painted, carpeted and seated. The size of the main edifice on the ground is one hundred by sixty-three feet, and the chapel addition and adjoining room is ninety by thirty-six feet.
Waterbury Assembly of God is a church located at 101 Prospect Street in Naugatuck. The church was built c. 1900. I think it may have been built originally as a Baptist Church, as described in History of Waterbury and the Naugatuck Valley, Connecticut, Vol. I (1918), by William J. Pape:
Among the citizens living in the Salem society soon after 1800 were a number of Baptists, who first worshipped in the church in Waterbury. In October, 1817, sixty persons living in Salem, Prospect and Bethany were set off from the Waterbury society to organize a new church in the localities indicated. Two meeting-houses were built, one on Fulling Mill Brook, and by December 22, 1819, the second was organized in the Straitsville locality.
It is the one on Fulling Mill Brook which later became the Naugatuck Baptist Church, with a fine church edifice on Prospect Street, in Union City.
Happy New Year! The first Mass to be celebrated in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, 46 Valley Street in Willimantic, took place on January 1, 1905. The parish had been established to serve French Canadian immigrants. Over a century later, the church was undergoing renovations when a fire broke out on May 16, 2013. There was extensive fire, smoke and water damage and firefighters had broken through stained glass windows to fight the fire. Closed for two years while undergoing restoration work, the church was rededicated on June 20, 2015.
Merry Christmas! Pictured above is the Salvation Army’s Bristol Worship and Service Center at 19 Stearns Street in Bristol. Much altered over the years, the building was erected in 1891 for the Swedish Lutheran Lebanon Congregational Church (later simplified to Lebanon Lutheran Church), founded in 1887. In 1963 Lebanon Lutheran merged with Bethesda Lutheran Church of Forestville to form Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. The newly formed church erected a new building on Camp Street in Forestville and the old building on Stearns Street was sold to the Salvation Army, which had previously had its headquarters on Prospect Street.
In 1747 residents of Hebron voted to crate a second Congregational parish within the town. Located in the section called Gilead, the new church was formally incorporated in May 1748 and the first meeting house was erected the following year. This building was torn down and replaced by the current Gilead Congregational Church, located at 672 Gilead Street, in 1838.
St. Philip the Apostle Church, 64 Pompey Hollow Road in the Warrenville section of Ashford, was built of native stone in the 1930s through the efforts of the local farming community. Most were of Slovak descent and the church has a Byzantine copper onion dome. The church was erected through the leadership of Father William J. Dunn, who was sent to the new parish, which originally encompassed nine rural towns in eastern Connecticut, in 1921 and celebrated Masses in the old farmhouse in which he lived until the new church was completed. It was designed by New York architect Paul Chalfin, a summer resident of Warrenville.
Clinton AME Zion Church in Ansonia was originally organized in Derby in 1874/1875. Early meetings were held in a hall over J. P. Swift’s Store, later Pucella’s Garage, at the corner of New Haven Avenue and Gilbert Street in Derby. The church affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1882 and adopted the name its pastor, Rev. J. J. Clinton, in 1888, incorporating as Clinton Memorial AME Zion Church. A new church building was erected on Derby Avenue, but the church later decided to relocate to Ansonia, which had a growing African American population. According to Ansonia assessor’s information, the new church, located at 96 Central Street, was built in 1950. The church had to be repaired after it was damaged in the flood of 1956 (see “$5,800 Spells Restored Hopes For Flood-Hit Ansonia Church,” Hartford Courant, February 4, 1956).