Happy Halloween! The Conference House is a building in Glastonbury, built around 1830, that possibly once stood where the First Church of Glastonbury was erected in 1837. It was moved to another site down Main Street, just north of the Joseph Wright House. Called the Conference House, the church used it for meetings, lectures and concerts. Starting in the late 1830s it was used as a private school run by one of Deacon Wright’s sons. In 1894, Deborah Goodrich Keene, who lived at 2016 Main Street, the Hale-Goodrich House, bought the building and moved it across the street to its current address of 2000 Main Street. In 1911 she leased the house to Glastonbury’s first telephone switchboard. She later converted it into a private residence. Floodwaters from Hubbard Brook almost reached the roofline of the house in 1936.
The Willington Glass Company, founded in 1814, gave its name to the Glass Factory School District in the Town of Willington. The district was served by a one-room schoolhouse, located at the modern address of 18 Glass Factory School Road. According to page 107 of the book A Glimpse of Willington’s Past by Isabel B. Weigold, published by the Willington Historical Society in 1991, the school was erected in 1858. A sign on the building gives a date of 1854. It replaced an earlier school on the site, dating back perhaps to 1727. After the school districts were consolidated, Albert Benjamin bought the house and converted it into a residence in 1936.
In the first half of the nineteenth century, Ashford Green was the active center of the Town of Ashford. Today, only one building survives from that time: the Ashford Academy, built in 1825. The first floor served as one of the town’s district schoolhouses (the Fifth School District). This schoolhouse was already being planned when a group of local citizens raised money by private subscription to add a second floor for use as a private academy for more advanced students. Academy sessions were held until 1875, after which the building served exclusively as a public school until 1949. Today the Ashford Historical Society uses the building for educational activities and to display some of their artifacts.
The Pequot School is a former public elementary school building located at 214 Main Street in the Southport section of Fairfield. Designed by W. H. McLean and built in 1917-1918 (it opened for classes in January 1918), it replaced an earlier Pequot School building erected in 1854. The school closed in 1972 and the town’s Board of Education used the building until 1984. Local citizens, concerned about intrusive commercial development targeting the building, formed the Southport Conservany, which purchased the former school and has since leased it to the Eagle Hill School, a private school for children with learning disabilities.
The Nathaniel White School, named in honor of an original settler of Cromwell who had left land in his will to be used for school purposes, was erected at 41 West Street in Cromwell in 1901 and dedicated in 1902. The original portion of the building was supplemented with a nearly identical southern block in 1925. Other additions were made to building over the years, which served as a high school until 1956 when a new Cromwell High School opened. The Nathaniel White School was then used as a middle school and, since c. 1985, the building has been the Town Hall of Cromwell.
Near the intersection of Rimmon Hill Road and 10 Pines Bridge Road in Beacon Falls is a one-room school house traditionally believed to have been built in 1779, when Beacon Falls was part of Derby. It is more likely that the Rimmon School House was one of six built in 1830, when Beacon Falls was part of the town of Oxford. The school was in use until 1953, when Laurel Ledge Elementary School opened. For 24 years the former school was owned by Raymond Lafferty, who had been in the last class at the Rimmon School before moving to Laurel Ledge in forth grade. His father had purchased it not long after the school closed and used it for storage. Raymond Lafferty had an antiques shop in the building, which he sold in 2010. The new owners wanted to sell the building to the town, but the town could not afford it.
The John Wesley Pentecostal Church was founded in Manchester in 1897. In the fall of 1907 (“Holiness Meeting in Manchester; In Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene,” Hartford Courant, April 10, 1908) the church became part of the Church of the Nazarene, a national evangelical denomination that formed in 1907-1908 through a series of mergers between various holiness churches and denominations, with the western-based Church of the Nazarene merging with the eastern-based Association of Pentecostal Churches of America. In 1958, the Manchester Church of the Nazarene moved from their original 1898 church at 466 Main Street to a new church at 236 Main Street. It was the culmination of a five-year building plan that included construction of a youth center (1954) and a parsonage (1957). The church’s pastor, Clarence E. Winslow, designed the buildings and prepared landscaping plans, personally clearing the land with the help of volunteers. Groundbreaking for the church occurred in the summer of 1957 and the following April (“Steeplejack Chore Planned by Pastor,” Hartford Courant, April 21, 1958) Rev. Winslow was lifted 90 feet by a giant crane to place a cross on the newly raised steeple. Rev. Winslow later moved to Florida where, in the 1970s, he led supporters of Creationism against the teaching of Evolution in Florida schools.
The Church of the Nazarene opened the Cornerstone Christian School in 1981. A new church building was erected at 218 Main Street in 1989, with Rev. Phillip Chatto this time attaching the cross at the top of the steeple (“Crowning touch installed at Manchester church,” by Randy Burgess, Hartford Courant, March 29, 1989). The previous church, now called the McLain Building, became part of the Cornerstone Christian School, housing the junior and senior high schools, and the former sanctuary was converted into a fellowship hall and gymnasium.