Happy Fourth of July! As described in my book Vanished Downtown Hartford (pp. 143-144), Hartford’s First Unitarian Society built a church, known as Unity Hall, on Pratt Street in 1881. It functioned as both a church and a public hall and was used by the Unitarians until 1924. They then moved to a new building on Pearl Street, which later became Ados Israel Synagogue, and then to their current building on Bloomfield Avenue. In 1891-1892, when they were still based at Unity Hall, the Unitarians constructed a five-story brick Romanesque Revival commercial building in front of their church. It was no doubt built to provide additional income for the church to add to that gained from renting out Unity Hall. A similar move was made by the Universalist Church of the Redeemer on Main Street, when it constructed a commercial building in front of the church in 1899 (it only stood until 1906 when Travelers acquired the property). Unity Hall was eventually demolished, but the Unity Building survives today. There is an interesting article about trouble early on with the buildings foundation: see “Foundation Stones Tipped: The Pratt Street Building Trouble Laid to a Surface Drain” in the Hartford Courant, April 13, 1892. The Unity Building has a Jacobethan first-floor facade that was added in 1928.
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.
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 »
Suffield’s first meeting house was erected around 1680. The Congregational Society was formally organized in 1698. A new Congregational meeting house was built around 1700. The next two church edifices are described in the Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut, October 12, 13 and 14, 1920 (1921):
The sills for a new Meeting House were laid May 8, 1749 and the steeple raised on August 22 following. The edifice was forty feet wide and fifty-seven long and stood north to south parallel with the burying ground. The steeple stood at the north end. . . . The fourth church edifice, the one for the past fifty years serving as the freight house at the railroad station, was built in 1835.
The current church was built in 1869. It was designed in the Romanesque Revival style by John C. Mead, a Suffield native who designed numerous churches throughout Connecticut. The First Church of Christ, Congregational originally had a tall spire on its southeast corner that blew down in the Hurricane of 1938 and was never replaced.
The Cronin Building, at 80-88 State Street in New London, was built by Jeremiah D. Cronin, a plumbing contractor and a promoter of the Post Hill Improvement Company. It was built on the site of the City Hotel, where Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln once stayed. The hotel burned down in 1891. The Cronin Building was designed by George Warren Cole, an architect from the firm of Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge (H.H. Richardson‘s successors) who came to New London to supervise the construction of three buildings: the Public Library, the Williams Memorial Institute and the Nathan Hale School. The vacant Cronin Building is in need of restoration.
As described yesterday, Ponemah Mills in the village of Taftville in Norwich began with Mill #1, constructed in 1866-1871, which was the largest textile mill in the world under one roof. In 1884 the company moved its weaving operation to a new building, called Mill #2. Smaller than the first building, it did resemble its neighbor by having two main stair towers. These towers have unusual double hipped roofs that meet at right angles with one side being higher than the other. Behind the building there was once a trestle used for the mill’s electric railway. In 1902, weaving was again moved to a new building.
Published in 1881, the History of Fairfield County, Connecticut, compiled by D. Hamilton Hurd, describes the early history of the Westport Methodist Episcopal Church:
The construction of the present church was commenced in the year 1851. Rev. Z. Davenport, now living at Saugatuck, Conn., was at that time the preacher in charge. Services were held in the old Universalist church for about two years, and until the Methodist Episcopal Church was completed.
[. . .] The original members were mostly persons who had in former years belonged to the same denomination and had worshiped at a church about two miles north of Westport village, at Poplar Plains.
The first Methodist sermon preached within the limits of this town was at Poplar Plain, in 1790, by Jesse Lee, in a house standing a few rods west of the now old church. Some few years after this regular preaching services were held in a ballroom of a tavern near by, and until the meeting house was built, about the year 1817, slabs upon legs being used for about forty years before the room was regularly seated. The old church is still standing, and is occasionally used upon some funeral occasion, the members having mostly died, the others having joined with some other Methoilist society.
Construction of a new church, located at 45 Church Lane, was begun in 1907. The church was known by the 1950s as the Community Methodist Church. In 1966 the church was sold to the neighboring Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, which uses it as the Christ & Holy Trinity Church Seabury Center and Preschool.