The Hockanum Methodist Episcopal Church, later the Hockanum United Methodist Church, was started in the early 1820s in the community of Hockanum in the south part of East Hartford. It was one of the first churches founded after the new Connecticut constitution of 1818 guaranteed the separation of church and state. Their original church building on South Main Street was built in 1838 and was remodeled in 1883-1884. A kitchen wing was added in 1911. Rev. Benjamin C. Phelps, who was a minister at the Hockanum Methodist Church, built the octagon house on Naubuc Avenue in East Hartford in 1852. After the neighborhood grew rapidly during World War II, plans were made to move the old church to a new site, just 50 feet to the south, where it would form part of a new and larger structure. Before being moved, in October 1951, the old building was raised to create room at the new site for a basement hall. Completed early the following year, the new church consisted of the old sanctuary, remodeled and lengthened, with a new front entrance and a new education wing at the rear. The facade of the new church was 20 feet further from Main Street than its predecessor, allowing space for a front lawn. In 2007 the church (address 178 Main Street) was sold to La Iglesia de Dios Evangelica El Refugio.
The First Universalist Society was organized in Middletown in 1829. Ten years later the Society constructed a church on Main Street at the corner of College Street (then called Parsonage Street; the building’s current address is 203-207 Main Street). Declining membership in the early twentieth century led to the sale of the building to the Odd Fellows for use as a meeting hall in 1916. The building has always had retail space on the first floor (originally the basement, as a flight of stairs led up to the church entrance from street level) and there was a conference room in the rear of the first floor. The Main Street front is currently home to Thai Gardens Restaurant.
The Congregational church in Northford in North Branford was established in 1750. The original meeting house stood just south of the present church building, which was built in 1846. Designed by Henry Austin of New Haven, the Portland brownstone church originally had a taller wood steeple that was destroyed in a disastrous fire in 1906. The fire also gutted the interior of the church, which had to be reworked. Other changes over the years included the rebuilding of the external walls on at least two occasions (1863 and 1873). Most recently, the church’s newer wooden tower, built after the fire in 1906, was removed in 2010. The wood had rotted to such an extent that the large bronze bell in the tower was unstable (engineers believed that the bell’s weight was the only thing keeping the wood tower from blowing off in a high wind!). The church plans to restore the wood tower and a fundraising campaign is underway to “Save The Bell Tower.”
In 1895 St. Rose Catholic parish in Meriden purchased a chapel on West Main Street from the Trinity Methodist Church to serve its expanding membership in the city’s west side. Originally dedicated to the Sacred Heart, the chapel soon became St. Joseph’s Church when a new parish was created in 1900. The site for a new church, at the corner of West Main Street and Goodwill Avenue, was purchased the following year and the cornerstone was laid on October 12, 1902. A basement chapel opened in 1903 and the completed St. Joseph Church was dedicated in early 1908.
A reader who contacted me on Facebook a while back noted the similarities of the former Sacred Heart Church at 32 Garden Street in Wethersfield to another Catholic church, St. Augustine Church in Glastonbury. Perhaps they used the same plans? Sacred Heart Parish began as a mission of St. Mary, East Hartford in 1877 and later became a mission of St. Lawrence O’Toole, Hartford. The building on Garden Street, which was the first Catholic church in Wethersfield, was erected in 1880, on a lot purchased in 1876. The church was dedicated on May 29, 1881. Sacred Heart was made a parish on September 1, 1897 and in 1924 moved to a new building, the former Meggat Seed Warehouse on Hartford Avenue, which was converted into a church. A fire in 1938 forced the congregation to move back into the Garden Street church. By 1943 the former Meggat granary was again made a church and was used by the parish until the current Sacred Heart Church, at 56 Hartford Avenue, was dedicated on June 29, 1963. In the 1940s the former Sacred Heart Church on Garden Street became storage for John Oldham Art and Display (now Oldham Studios). The company was founded in 1931 by John W. Oldham, Sr., an illustrator who painted portraits of movie stars for film premiers in the Hartford area. Continued by his son and grandson, the company expanded into a trade show display design and fabrication company, based at 888 Wells Road in Wethersfield. The Queen Anne house next to the church was built in 1900 as the parish rectory. Read the rest of this entry »
The Stony Creek section of Branford has a rich history. In the nineteenth century its shoreline and the Thimble Islands attracted wealthy industrialists and its quarries provided the pink granite used for the foundations of the Statute of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge. The quarries brought new immigrant workers, including Italians who first worshiped at a hall on Leete’s Island Road built by quarry owner John Beattie. A chapel was later built on School Street and eventually, in 1927, a church was erected at 84 Thimble Island Road and dedicated in October, 1928. What had previously begun as St. Therese mission became a parish in 1947. A new St. Therese Church on Leete’s Island Road was dedicated in 1968. The old church building was sold to the town in 1974 and was then used as a community and recreation center. A fire station was added to the rear of the building in 1976. More recently the building was renovated and reopened in 2012 as the Stony Creek Museum, which chronicles the area’s history.
The Second Congregational Church of Norwalk, later called the South Norwalk Congregational Church, was formed in 1836 by members of the First Congregational Church who wanted to build a new church in the village of Old Well, which later became the City of South Norwalk. Its first church building was completed that same year and was enlarged in 1856. Ground was broken for a new and larger church on May 31, 1888. The structure (the current address is 4 Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Drive) was completed and the first services were held on the last Sunday in December 1889. The formal dedication took place early in January 1890. By the early 1970s the church had a dwindling membership. It sold its building and merged with United Congregational Church in West Norwalk. The former South Norwalk Congregational Church is now Little Zion Church of Christ of the Apostolic Faith. The steeple was hit by lightning in September 2014 which started a fire that caused some damage to the roof.