The building at 21-23 Colony Street in Meriden was erected in 1877 as a Y.M.C.A. The rear of the structure has a mansard roof and the front facade once had one as well, but the building was altered c. 1920 after the Y.M.C.A. moved to a new building on West Main Street. At that time the building was converted to commercial use with a new facade in the Neoclassical style.
The handsome and commodious new building is now ready for occupancy, and it has been built almost solely through the untiring energy and exertions of the president of the association, Mr. W. E. Benham. He has never faltered since he took the matter in hand, but has kept on through difficulties and discouragements which few other men would have surmounted. The association now has one of the handsomest buildings of the kind in the state. Its large and pleasant reading rooms, its gymnasium, and the pleasant parlors will furnish places of resort which cannot fail of doing much good, and Mr. Benham can certainly reflect with great satisfaction upon the good work he has accomplished.
According to The Life and Writings of W. E. Benham (1882):
Its whole internal arrangements are found to have been wisely planned for the accomplishment of its benevolent purposes. It is said to be the most elegant and best built building in Meriden, is admired by all, subscribers and citizens generally, as the right building in the right place, an attractive, convenient center, in which the public, especially young men, in large numbers, delight to resort and pleasantly improve their leisure hours in intellectual, physical, social, moral and religious culture, where, away from the evil, all the surrounding influences are good and elevating. It is estimated’that between 1,000 and 2,000 persons average daily to enter this building, for the various purposes of water, baths, hair-dressing, food, clothing, reading, singing, gymnastics, writing, arithmetic, lectures, concerts, mission schools, lyceums, religious and other meetings. In short, it is an inestimably important building for the moral welfare of Meriden, and could not be spared without an irreparable loss.
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 1917 Italian immigrants working at the Ensign-Bickford factory and on farms in Avon and surrounding towns formed a social club called the Prince Thomas of Savoy Society. It was named for Prince Tommaso of Savoy, Second Duke of Genoa. During World War One, Prince Thomas was appointed Luogotenente, or lieutenant general, by Victor Emanuel III and served as the king’s second-in-command. Established as a mutual aid society, the Society’s meetings were held in members’ homes and other rented spaces until the group erected the building at 32 Old Farms Road in Avon in 1930-1932. Many Italian immigrants were involved in the building trades and used their expertise to build the clubhouse. Each member of the Society was required to contribute a certain number of hours each week until the project was completed. The clubhouse was officially dedicated in 1932.
On Washington Green is the H-shaped parish house of the First Congregational Church of Washington. It was erected in 1874 and was originally called The Hall on the Green. Owned by the Washington Hall and Conference Room Association, it served as a meeting hall, chapel and library. In 1927 it was deeded to the church and extensively remodeled. It was dedicated on June 21, 1929 and called the Judea Parish House after the original name of Washington’s church: the Parish of Judea.
Camp meetings were a notable feature of religious life in nineteenth-century America and some continue in existence today. This site has already featured the Plainville Campground and Camp Bethel in Haddam. Another religious campground is the Willimantic Camp Meeting Association. It was established by Methodists who held the first meeting here on September 3, 1860. Today it is an interdenominational Evangelical Association. At its height the camp had 300 buildings, primarily cottages built by individual churches or families. A third of them were destroyed by the hurricane of 1938 and another hundred were lost to neglect over the ensuing decades. 100 cottages remain and constitute an architectural treasure. Read the rest of this entry »
The German Lutheran Church in Seymour, later known as Immanuel Lutheran Church, was organized in 1893. A church building at 56 West Street in Seymour was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1894. In the 1970s the church’s congregation moved to a larger building on Great Hill Road in Oxford. The former church on West Street, much remodeled, is now owned by the Valley Detachment of the Marine Corps League.
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.