Gilead Hall was erected to serve as a public meeting and gathering place for residents of the Gilead section of Hebron. Built by the Gilead Hall Association, it was dedicated on September 4, 1905. It was used as a Grange Hall until 1950. In 1978 it was converted into a residence and has a much modified interior. Its modern address is 667 Gilead Street.
In 1747 residents of Hebron voted to crate a second Congregational parish within the town. Located in the section called Gilead, the new church was formally incorporated in May 1748 and the first meeting house was erected the following year. This building was torn down and replaced by the current Gilead Congregational Church, located at 672 Gilead Street, in 1838.
The house at 650 Gilead Street in the Gilead section of Hebron was erected c. 1770-1771 (possible dates range from 1740 to 1780) by a member of the Youngs-Curtice family or possibly Abijah Rowley, who in 1768 was sold part of the Youngs property by his sister-in-law, Elizabeth Curtice Youngs, widow of Ephraim Youngs, Jr. In 1782 Abijah’s widow, Hannah Curtice, sold the property to her brother, John Curtice. In 1812 he sold it to Rev. Nathan Gillett, who raised the roof to add rooms to the third floor. Rev. Gillett was minister of the Gilead Congregational Church from 1799 to 1824. His successor, Rev. Charles Nichols (minister from 1825 to 1856), then lived in the house and added rooms to the rear. The house was later owned by Ralph T. “Tracy” Hutchinson, who served as Gilead postmaster from 1859 to 1905.
One of the house’s parlors, featuring elaborately carved wood paneling, overhead beams and a corner cupboard, were sold to Yale University in 1930 and removed by architect and architectural historian J. Frederick Kelly. Curators planned to install the room in the Old Yale Art Gallery Building, but the Great Depression prevented the work being undertaken. The woodwork remained in storage until conservation efforts began in 2009. The room has been on view since 2012 at the newly renovated Yale University Art Gallery.
Hebron was incorporated as a town in 1708. The community’s religious services were held in private homes before a meeting house was constructed. There was intense debate in 1716 concerning where to built it, either north of the center village or on the Green. Eventually, a site on the Green was selected. The building was soon erected, although it was not fully finished in 1723-1724. Agitation developed over the formation of separate parishes and in 1747 the Connecticut General Court removed sections of Hebron to become parts of two new towns: the northeastern section becoming part of Andover and the western section part of Marlborough. The northwest corner of town remained part of Hebron, but was set off as a distinct ecclesiastical society, called now the Gilead Congregational Church, which held its first meeting in 1748. F. Clarence Bissell has related (in an address for Hebron’s Bicentennial in 1908):
Returning again to the situation of the town about the time that it was divided into religious societies; the first meeting house was in a ruinous condition, and there was much difference of opinion as to the location of a new one. But the necessity for a new one was emphasized by the burning of the old. This occurred Oct. 8, 1747 and was caused by an incendiary hired for that purpose, a half witted young man, who was afterwards prosecuted and committed to jail for the crime. During the year in which the old meeting house was burned there were held ten society meetings regarding a new one. It was finally voted to build a new house 60 feet by 48 feet and 25 foot posts, on the place where the old house stood. The new house was built in 1748 arid it contained some timbers that were already hewed for the addition for the first house, and saved from the fire. Some of these same timbers were afterwards used in building the new church in 1828, the building which many of us remember as standing until the fire of 1882.
That fire was described by Cyrus H. Pendleton (again at the Bicentennial):
April 17, 1882, a fire broke out upon the roof of a building, the lower story of which was occupied by Lucien H. Leonard as a store, his family residing in the story above. The fire started from sparks from the chimney. This building, known as the Hendee Store, stood just west of the Congregational Church, and with it was burned, the church and four other buildings on the north side of the Green, and the schoolhouse and two other buildings on the south side. The church and schoolhouse were rebuilt the same year, and two of the dwellings soon after.
The Late Georgian, or Federal style, Peters House, at 150 East Street in Hebron, consists of two sections. The vernacular rear ell was built in the mid-eighteenth century and was home to enslaved African-American residents Caesar and Lowis Peters. They were owned by loyalist Rev. Samuel Peters, who fled Hebron in 1774 to live in England. Cesar was left to tend to the property, which was later seized by the State of Connecticut. After the Revolutionary War, Rev. Peters, still in England, sold off his American assets, Cesar and his wife and children being sold to David Prior of South Carolina. In 1787, Prior and his men came to take the family, who were then rescued by a group of Hebron men, who used the pretext that Cesar owed money to a local tailor as a way to rescue him and his family. In 1789, Cesar and his family were freed by the Connecticut General Assembly and, the following year, Cesar Peters sued David Prior for damages, although he later dropped the suit. The front part of the house was probably built by Jonathan Peters, Rev. Peter’s brother, around 1795. The house, which remained a single family home until 1967, was acquired by the Town of Hebron in 2004. The surrounding land became a recreational facility, but the house was in need of restoration. In recent years there were debates about the future of the house, which was recently added to the Connecticut Freedom Trail. Local residents and descendants of Lois and Cesar Peters urged that the building be restored as a historic site. The town has since received a $200,000 grant from the state for restorations and a film about Cesar and Lowis Peters, Testimonies of a Quiet New England Town, has recently been released.
Hebron‘s Old Town Hall was built in 1838 on Hebron Green as a Methodist meeting house. The Methodist Society in Hebron broke up around 1850 and in 1863 the building was sold to the town for use as a town hall, at which time the structure was lowered to one story. It was used for town meetings until 1950 and afterwards was used by various civic organizations for meetings. Since 1971, the Old Town Hall has been owned and maintained as a museum by the Hebron Historical Society, which recently restored the building.
This past winter, Connecticut Explored magazine featured an article about the state’s rural synagogues. One of these is Agudas Achim (United Brethren) Synagogue, at 10 Church Street in Hebron, a brick Art Deco building. The congregation had been meeting in private homes for many years, but began planning to build a synagogue in the late 1930s. A leading member of Hebron’s Jewish community, Ira Charles Turshen, offered to design and build the new synagogue. In 1924, Turshen, who was born in the province of Minsk in Russia, had bought a grain business and store in Amston, a village in Hebron. When his grain mill burned down in 1927, he rebuilt it himself using brick. The new building featured his signature trademark, a circular window. In building Agudas Achim, Turshen wanted to construct a building which would last for generations. He was willing to make up the difference for cost overruns and used recycled bricks on the synagogue’s rear and side walls. Turshen made the Star of David stained glass window on the front facade himself. The synagogue was completed in 1940 and officially dedicated in the following year.