In the center of Eastford is a Greek Revival building called the Ivy Glenn Memorial. It was built as a Methodist Church in 1847, the same year Eastford separated from Ashford to become a new town. In 1916, Eastford Methodists joined with Congregationalists to form a Federated Church and the former Methodist Church was sold to the town for $200. The building’s basement was repaired to serve as a place for town meetings. Restoration work was completed in 1934 with funds from the Civil Works Administration. The upstairs hall was now used for town meetings and the library and town offices were located in the basement. A new Town Hall was erected in 1969 and after town offices moved to the new building, the library was able to expand in the basement of the former church. This required a new renovation which was funded by a bequest in honor of Ivy Glenn made by her husband, Wilmer Glenn, a New York stockbroker who spent summers in the Phoenixville section of Eastford. The enlarged library opened in 1972. Another renovation was made after a fire in May 1979 damaged the front of the building.
Eastford is one of those towns in the state where the center of population nearly coincides with the geographical center of the township. Miss Ellen Larned, in her valuable History of Windham County, tells us that “the first inhabitant was John Perry from Marlborough, Mass.; who bought 350 acres of land on both sides of Still River and settled upon it near the site of the present Eastford Village.” The grave of this rude forefather of the hamlet may be seen, if I am not mistaken, in the old grave-yard back of the Congregational Church. From the beginning the chief settlement has gathered around this original spot. The village is favorably located, with a healthful environment, a fine outlook, and excellent water power. There are six roads which unite at the village green in front of the Methodist Church; and now that the state road is constructed the facilities for travel are all that can be desired. A fresh hope for the place can be confidently indulged in. The old-time saying of one of its people is fast coming more true than ever before: “Eastford is the biggest place of its size on earth.”
Carlyle F. Barnes (1852-1926) was a businessman, musician and prominent citizen of Bristol. A chapel donated to his memory by his wife and two sons is located at 49 Pound Street (at West Cemetery) in Bristol. It was designed in the Norman style by Earle K. Bishop (of the firm of Perry and Bishop of New Britain) with stained-glass windows by by Calvert, Herrick & Riedinger. The Carlyle F. Barnes Memorial Chapel was dedicated on November 9, 1930 and is managed by the West Cemetery Association.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 220 Valley Street in Willimantic began as a mission of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Windham in 1865. Services were held in a rented hall until 1883. The history of the church can be found in A Modern History of Windham County, Connecticut, Vol. I (1920), edited by Allen B. Lincoln, from which the following details are excerpted:
In the year 1884, however, a small frame church building in Central Village was moved to the site. of the present edifice, on the corner of Walnut and Valley streets. [. . .] With the building came also the altar, the old communion set, and vestments. And thus after thirty years St. Paul’s, Willimantic, became a corporate parish, the first resident rector of which was the Rev. Isaac W. Hallam. From that time on the positions of the little mother church in Windham and her sturdy offspring in Willimantic were partially reversed; Willimantic becoming the residence of their mutual rector and absorbing the greater part of his time. [. . .] Meantime, a fund known as the Isabella Tracy Eaton Fund, was left to the parish, and from this the Missionary Society purchased a plot of ground adjoining the church property and erected a rectory thereon. [. . .]
A movement was started during Mr. Hatch’s incumbency to build a new church. A legacy of $20,000 had been left the parish by Mrs. Boardman of New Haven toward the erection of a new edifice for St. Paul’s parish, Willimantic, with the proviso that the parish should raise the needed balance. Pledges were secured for the amount, but the actual cash had not been turned in and Trinity College, Hartford, another beneficiary under the will, raised the legal technicality that the letter of the proviso had not been met, and the courts allowed only $10,000 of Mrs. Boardman’s estate to be applied to St. Paul’s legacy. This proceeding was regarded by many as a new proof that law and justice are not as close as hand and glove. As a local paper stated warmly, “Pledges as good as the Bank of England were secured,” but the law took its bland course and Trinity College was as triumphant as the cat that swallowed the canary.
However, the Missionary Society of the Diocese, deeming that the spirit of the will had been kept by the parish, added $9,500 to the $10,000 and the balance of $22,000 was raised by the people, with the consequence that the new church was built, and on September 24, 1913, was duly consecrated by Bishop Brewster.
The new structure is of gray stone, the interior finished in quartered oak. The old building was turned into a parish house, while the old chancel with its altar was enclosed and is used as a sacristy. [. . .]
Seven years after the new church building was completed, it was found necessary to partly rebuild the same as grave fundamental faults of construction had grown more and more evident. During the year 1919-1920 the work was done at an outlay of some $15,000. At the same time the parish house was enlarged and renovated. A new kitchen was built, a G.F.S. room added and furnished by the members of that society, who for the most part have shown themselves enthusiastic and conscientious church workers. The rectory was also thoroughly repaired. On Easter Day, 1920, the church was re-dedicated by Bishop E. C. Acheson.
African-Americans in Ansonia established Macedonia Baptist Church in 1890 and two years later constructed a church building at 24 Clifton Avenue. When local roads were later rearranged, the church received a new address of 243 Pershing Drive.
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.