The Norwich State Hospital, located in Norwich and Preston, was an extensive facility for the mentally ill and those found guilty of crimes by insanity. It opened in 1904 in a single building, but in the following eight years 13 new structures were added. The Hospital had over 3,000 patients by 1955 and was a huge complex of over twenty buildings linked by underground tunnels. In later years deinstitutionalization led to a large decrease in the patient population and the Hospital closed in 1996. It then became an infamous abandoned site, said to be haunted. The complex was frequently visited by urban explorers. Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters visted the site in 2010, but since then the majority of the buildings have been demolished in preparation for future redevelopment. Once at the center of the Hospital, the Administration Building, built in 1908, now stands alone, weatherized to prevent further decay and awaiting future development.
When I took a picture of the old Congregational Church, at in Willington on Wednesday, it was having some wok done (no doubt in response to this proposal)! The Congregational Church in Willington was established around 1728.
As described in the Tolland County Press (published in Stafford Springs) of October 12, 1876, p. 3:
THE NEW CHURCH. —One cold dreary evening during the past winter, the members of the Congregational society met together in the study of the old church to talk over the subject of building a new house of worship. A few were opposed to the project, but most of the members were heartily in favor of the proposed enterprise. Thus the long-needed work of building a new church was in embryo, which is now completed, and on Tuesday last was dedicated to the worship of Almighty God. Before giving an account of the dedication we will devote a brief space to a description of the edifice. At a subsequent meeting held in the early spring, it was voted to build, and nearly $1,000 was pledged by the people toward the enterprise. April 12th ground was broken for the building, on land generously donated by Mr. Geo. E. Robbins, and April 29th the corner stone was laid with religious ceremonies.
On Saturday, June 17th, the body of the main building was raised, and soon after the conference room. From the very beginning the work has progressed finely, everything seeming to work in the favor of the church and society. The main building is 36×46, and the conference room is 22×26, both built in Gothic style. A handsome tower rises from the center of the front end of the church, to the height of 61 feet. Near the top of the tower are four dormer windows, from which one has a fine commanding view of a wide expanse of country. Above the mam entrance is a triple window, which, surrounded by a neat display of architectural work, adds much to the beauty of the tower, which is surmounted by a neat vane. The main entrance is from the south, leading through a vestibule 12 feet square, into the audience room. This is neatly finished with open timbered roof, beautifully jetted with fancy brackets and scroll work. Tbe windows, which are of flicked glass, are finished with architraves. The ceiling is tinted with blue, while the walls are of light drab. The pulpit elevation is at tbe opposite end, with the orchestra on tbe left, both highly finished in oak and black walnut. The elegant railing around the latter, together with the breast-work in front of the slips, add much to the architectural beauty of the room. There are 46 slips, with a seating capacity of 230. The church is furnished with a fine pulpit set, including a communion table, bible stand, etc., from Baldwin Bros, of Springfield. In the orchestra is a superb organ of the Esty manufacture, the gift of E. T. Fitch, of New Haven. On its south wall is a handsome clock, donated by H. L. Wade, secretary of the Waterbury Clock Manufacturing Co., while the highly ornamented chandeliers, containing six lamps, also six side lamps, was the gift of L. G. Merrick, Esq. of Bristol, Conn. On Tuesday, Oct. 10th, the new edifice was dedicated to the worship of Almighty God. The weather was everything desirable, in perfect harmony with the interesting occasion. The church was filled to its utmost.
The Congregational Church merged with the Willington Baptist Church in 1911 to form The Federated Church of Willington. The congregation then moved to the Baptist meeting house across the Green. From 1926 to 1974 the old Congregational Church was used as the Town Hall, so the former church is also known as the Willington Old Town Hall. The church’s bell, purchsed from the First Church in Stafford in 1876, was removed during World War II to allow airplane spotters to used the tower. Instead of being placed back in the tower, it was mounted on a pedestal outside the building.
One of numerous US post office buildings produced during the New Deal era is the Bridgeport Main Post Office, located at 120 Middle Street, completed in 1934. A strikingly unornamented Art Deco/Art Moderne structure, it was designed by local architect Charles Wellington Walker under the supervision of Louis A. Simon, the supervising architect of the United States Treasury Department. The lobby has murals by R. L. Lambden depicting mail delivery through the ages.
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 Town Hall of Watertown stands on the site where the town’s meeting house of 1772 had once stood. Town offices had previously been located in the Amos Gridley Store before the Town Hall was erected in 1894. The date is on the front of the building in Roman numerals: MDCCCXCIV. The Town Hall is an interesting combination of the Richardsonian Romanesque (similar to the former Watertown Library building across the street) and Colonial Revival styles. Read the rest of this entry »
The Central Fire Station, later called the Main Street Fire House, at 533 Main Street in Middletown, was built in 1899 during the era of horse drawn fire coaches. There is a hosedrying tower on the building’s northwest corner. It has been continuously used by the Middletown Fire Department ever since and its Renaissance Revival design has made it a notable landmark of the north section of Main Street. Read the rest of this entry »
Colonial-era congregational meetinghouses served as a place for both religious services and town meetings. They often resembled large houses and did not always have steeples. The Worthington Meetinghouse (723 Worthington Ridge in Berlin) was built in 1774 with no steeple. One was added in 1790, but the building has since been restored to its original look without a steeple. The congregational church in Worthington (the west side of Berlin) had split from the church in Kennsington (the east side of Berlin) in 1772. A fire damaged the building in 1848. Although it was soon repaired, church members decided to erect a new church (now the Berlin Congregational Church) down the road. No longer a house of worship, the building continued its public function as the Worthington Town Hall. The large open space insde was divided into two floors: upstairs for town meetings and downstairs for a school with two classrooms. In 1907 the entire building became a school with a total of four classrooms. The old Meetinghouse served as a school until 1957, when it became the offices of the Berlin Board of Education. The building became vacant in the 1970s when it was declared unsafe. The inside was gutted around that time, but work halted, leaving the interior unfinished. Local residents have been working to restore the building as a community cultural center and museum.