Congregational worship services in what is now the town of Darien were originally conducted in private homes starting in 1668. One such home was the Bates-Scofield House, now owned by the Darien Historical Society. At that time the community was still under the authority of the First Church in Stamford, but meetings for worship independent of Stamford began to be held in the 1730s. The Middlesex Ecclesiastical Society was officially organized in 1744, with its first minister, Moses Mather, who would remain in the pulpit for sixty-four years. The first meetinghouse was built in 1740 on the King’s Highway. Rev. Mather was a patriot during the Revolutionary War and, as described in Lossing’s Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution (1859), “On Sunday, the 22d of July , the church was surrounded by a party of Tories, under Captain Frost, just as the congregation were singing the first tune. Dr. Mather and the men of the congregation were taken to the banks of the Sound, thrust into boats, and conveyed across to Lloyd’s Neck, on Long Island, whence they were carried to New York and placed in the Provost Jail. Some died there.” Rev. Mather and most of the prisoners were eventually released. Middlesex Parish, established in 1737, remained a part of the Town of Stamford until Darien became a separate town in 1820. A new and larger brick meetinghouse, was built adjacent to the original 1837 and a bell was installed in 1841. Additional church history can be read in a pdf file on the church website.
The Stephen T. Mather Homestead, in Darien, is named for Stephen Tyng Mather, who laid the foundation of the National Park Service. The Mather Homestead was built in 1778 by Deacon Joseph Mather, son of Reverend Moses Mather, who was minister of the Middlesex Parish Church. During the Revolutionary War, there was much raiding by Tories along the coast of Long Island Sound, but the Mathers felt that their property was far enough inland to be safe. They encouraged friends and relatives to hide their money and valuables at the house until the war ended, but on the night of March 19, 1781, a gang of Tories raided their home and forced the Mathers to reveal the hidden items. During the War, Joseph Mather was an Ensign in the Connecticut Militia, fighting at Montreal in the 1775 invasion of Canada, and he was also a sergeant in the Coast Guard. Mathers have continued to own the Homestead since it was built. In the later nineteenth century, it had passed to Joseph Wakeman Mather, who moved to San Francisco to develop business interests there. His son, Stephen, was born in California in 1867. Stephen Mather went on to become a millionaire as president and owner of the Thorkildsen-Mather Borax Company. Inspired by his meeting with John Muir in 1912, Mather complained to the federal authorities about the government’s neglect of the nation’s National Parks. Soon working in the Interior Department, he established and became the first director of the National Park Service. He continued to own his family’s Homestead in Darien, using it as a summer residence. After his death, in 1930, the house was owned by his daughter, Bertha Mather McPherson, a founding member and the first president of the Darien Historical Society.
The Bates-Scofield Homestead is a colonial saltbox-style house, built around 1736 in Darien for John Bates, who lived there until 1774. The house was later deeded to John Bates, Jr. Before Darien’s first meetinghouse was built, services were held in the Bates House. After the Bates family, the house was owned by the Scofield family for almost a century, starting with Ezra Scofield in 1822. By 1964 the house faced demolition, until it was given to the Darien Historical Society and moved to a new site to become a museum. In 2005, the 1827 Scofield Barn was also donated to the Society and dismantled. In 2008, the barn was reunited with the house and joined to it by a new connector building.