The first Methodist Episcopal society in Derby was organized in 1793. In the early years, the members did not have their own building. According to The History of the Old Town of Derby (1880), “The ministers preached wherever they found open doors.” This included private homes, taverns and a schoolhouse. Again quoting from the History:
For a long time the society continued small and encountered much prejudice and some persecution. On one occasion, while a meeting was held in the house of Isaac Baldwin, which stood on the flat east of H. B. Beecher’s auger factory, the persecutors went up a ladder and stopped the top of the chimney in the time of preaching, so that the smoke drove the people out of the house. Squibs of powder were often thrown into the fire in time of worship, to the great annoyance of the people.
The Methodists constructed a church on Birmingham Green in 1837. This church continued in use until funds were raised at a tent revival in 1891 to build a new church. The current Derby United Methodist Church, built in the Romanesque style, was completed in 1894 on the site of the earlier church.
Derby’s Second Congregational Church, located on Derby Green across from Immanuel St. James Episcopal Church, began as the Birmingham Congregational Society, founded by members of the First Church who lived in what is now the center of Derby. The church was built in 1845 and dedicated on January 28, 1846. The top of the steeple was damaged by Hurricane Gloria in 1985 and has not been replaced.
Also, be sure to check out my new Architectural Article about SECOND EMPIRE & QUEEN ANNE HOUSES. Please let me know what you think of it!
Derby’s Congregational Church was organized in 1677. The first meetinghouse was built in 1681 and the second one in 1721-1722. The current church was built in 1821. Rev. Daniel Humphreys, father of David Humphreys, was minister in Derby for many years.
The Osborne Homestead Museum is adjacent to the Kellogg Environmental Center and the Osbornedale State Park in Derby. It was originally a farm house built in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1867, Wilbur Fisk Osborne married Ellen Lucy Davis and the couple moved into the house. Osborne’s father, John White Osborne, had founded a brass manufacturing company in Derby which came to dominate the eyelet manufacturing business. Wilbur F. Osborne served as president of various companies and also founded the Derby Neck Library, persuading Andrew Carnegie to assist in funding the library building’s construction. The Osbornes‘ only surviving child was Frances Eliza Osborne, who became a businesswoman, taking over her father’s responsibilities after his sudden death in 1907. In 1919, she married Waldo Stewart Kellogg, a New York architect. Starting in 1910, a Colonial Revival remodeling project began on the house, with additional detailing work done by Waldo Kellogg. The homestead now resembles a Federal-style house. Frances Osborne Kellogg continued to live in the house until her death in 1956. She had deeded her property to the State of Connecticut in 1951 and it became the Osbornedale State Park. The land was once home to the Osbornedale Dairy, which was run by Waldo Kellogg, who improved the herd after the acquisition of a prize bull. The house is open to the public as the Osborne Homestead Museum.
Merry Christmas!! Today our building is St. Michael’s Church, on Derby Avenue in Derby. Polish immigrants established St. Michael the Archangel parish in 1903 and the church was built in 1906-1907. A neighboring parish school, staffed by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth, was built in 1914.
The old Birmingham National Bank building is on Main Street in the City of Derby, which was once known as Birmingham. The bank was originally chartered in 1848 as the Manufacturers Bank of Birmingham, with Edward N. Shelton as its first president, and in 1865 became a national bank. Constructed in 1892-1893, the building features an elaborately detailed facade with terra cotta molding in the Sullivanesque, Neo-Grec and Richardsonian Romanesque Revival styles. The building is now the Twisted Vine Restaurant.
On the other side of Derby Green from the Sterling Opera House is Immanuel St. James Episcopal Church, on Minerva Street. Built in 1843, the building had two predecessors: the church on Elm Street in what is now Ansonia, at the Old Episcopal Graveyard (which was later moved across the street and attached to the Humphreys House), and its successor on Derby Avenue, which was called St. James Church. When the third building was constructed in 1843, some families continued to worship at the old church and organized Christ Church parish in Ansonia. In 1970, St. James Church in Derby began a Joint Ministry with Immanuel Church in Ansonia, and the two merged in 1991. The stone church was was built by the stonemason Harvey Johnson and the carpenter Nelson Hinman. The land for the church was donated by Sheldon Smith and Anson G. Phelps. A rectory was constructed next door in 1853.