The first Catholic parish in Wethersfield was Sacred Heart parish, organized in 1876. In August of 1938, the parish’s church on Hartford Avenue was devastated by fire. Rev. George M. Grady, pastor of Sacred Heart, soon purchased an extensive tract of land on the Silas Deane Highway for the construction of a new church. Many parishioners assumed that the new church was to replace the one lost in the fire, but it was decided to make the new building a mission church of Sacred Heart. Named Corpus Christi, the new church was designed by architect John J. McMahon (1875-1958) in the Georgian Revival style to reflect Wethersfield’s colonial background. It is built of Harvard red brick with limestone trim. The church was dedicated on November 26, 1939 and Corpus Christi was officially established as a separate parish on September 27, 1941.
In July of that same year, the church’s pastor, Rev. Patrick T. Quinian, received a letter from Bishop Ambrose Pinger of Shantung (now Shandong), China. A photograph of the Wethersfield church in the Catholic Directory of 1941 had captured the bishop’s imagination and he asked to be sent plans for the church so that its design might be copied for the new cathedral in Chowtsun (now Zhoucun)!
Formerly the schoolhouse of Wethersfield‘s West Hill District, the one-room school called the “Little Red Schoolhouse” was built in 1869 and still displays its two separate front entrances, one for boys and one for girls. The building was later used by the Wethersfield Police Department and is now home to the Wethersfield Art League.
The George Wells House, at 480 Wells Road in Wethersfield, was built in 1830. George Wells, a descendent of Governor Thomas Welles, built the house on the site where the home of his father, Elijah Wells, had once stood. For many years, owners of the new house kept the old corner cupboard from the demolished house. Note: This post was written on 09/02/2011 and backdated so that there would be a regular post for 04/01/2010 as well as an April Fool’s Post.
The house of Capt. George Latimer is on Main Street in Wethersfield. It was built around 1770 by Samuel Talcott. Capt. Latimer owned the house in the nineteenth century and died by drowning in 1863. He was racing another ship on the Connecticut River back to Wethersfield at the time and had decided to take the shallower west channel of Wright’s Island. His boat ran aground and he was “walking” or kedging it (a method of hauling a ship in shallow water by laying a lighter kedge anchor attached to the ship by a rope and pulling the ship up to the anchor; the process is repeated until the ship is free from shallow water). Capt. Latimer was in a smaller boat, attempting to cast anchor and pull his ship, when an anchor chain caught his leg and pulled him under. At his funeral, his lifelike appearance made many believe he wasn’t really dead (and interestingly, it was said that no water had been found in his lungs).
The Thomas Wells House was built as a saltbox house in 1774 on Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield. When viewed from the front, the house’s chimney is not visible. Capt. Thomas Wells was on the building committee for Wethersfield’s First Congregational Church.
The brick home of Samuel Dix in Wethersfield was built in 1780, or perhaps earlier in 1764, on Wolcott Hill Road near Wells Road. The house, which was also known as the Leonard Dix House, remained in the Dix family into the twentieth century. The interior was later completely altered from the original arrangement.
Not much is known about the construction of the house at 646 Wolcott Hill Road in Wethersfield. Most likely built by 1800, it may date to much earlier. The house is associated with the name Martin Wells, perhaps an ancestor or relative of Judge Martin Wells, who lived in the Webb House starting around 1820 and hosted Tocqueville when he visited the Connecticut State Prison in Wethersfield in 1831. The Wells House on Wolcott Hill Road at one time had a front porch attached, which was later removed.