Washington Lodge No. 19, the first Masonic Lodge in the country named for George Washington, formed in 1791 in Monroe. By 1800 the Lodge completed what was the first Temple in Connecticut erected solely for Masonic use. This building was later moved to Hurd Street and became the Town of Monroe’s first Town Hall. A new Masonic Temple was erected in 1904 at 1 Fan Hill Road. It is a Georgian Revival structure modeled on the central section of the White House in Washington, D.C.
The building at 30 Church Street in North Haven was built in 1887-1890 as the town’s Fourth District School. The lead-up to its erection was long delayed, as described by Sheldon B. Thorpe in his North Haven Annals (1892):
This district more frequently named the “Centre District,” has probably always had a larger enumeration of children than any in the town and less room, per capita, to educate them in. In 1872 the proposition to furnish a larger school building was brought forward but voted down. The next year the Board of Education, seeing the need, declared to the district that unless better facilities were provided, its proportion of the public fund would be suspended. This alarmed the obstructionists and their opposition was temporarily withdrawn. A new school site was purchased and proposals to build were invited, but it was impossible to get any farther. For nearly six years, delays of one nature and another were put forward and the lot remained unbuilt upon. The death of Capt. H. H. Stiles, in 1879, a member of the special building committee, rendered a re-adjustment of matters necessary, and the district voted to sell the new site at public auction, November 4, 1879. Its Cost at the time of sale had reached in round numbers, $500. It brought $157.
To appease the Board of Education and compromise with the more radical ones of the district, new furniture was placed in the old building and a tax laid to cancel the debt.
The population was increasing, and in 1884 the project to build came up a second time. It was defeated. It was defeated also in 1885 and 1886. In 1887 it came up again as usual, and in this year secured a recognition. A committee was chosen to more fully inquire into the persistency of the petitioners, and the former unanimously reported insufficient accommodations, and recommended a change of base. The report was adopted, and after a thorough examination the present location was decided upon and purchased in August 1887. It was identically the same tract as bought in 1873, with the addition of a frontage on Pierpont Park, where once stood the ancient Sabbath day houses, and later several sections of horse sheds.
The building was designed by North Haven’s prominent builder Solomon F. Linsley. The two rooms on the first floor were completed and ready for use in 1888 and a third room on the upper floor was fitted up in 1890. The fourth room remained unfinished at the time Thorpe was writing. Thrope goes on to write that
The practical working of the building has been found excellent in all respects. It is equipped with a finished basement, well, slate black-boards, bell, flag, modern furniture, and a local library. The course of study ranges from the kindergarten to that preparatory to entrance to the high school. It receives many pupils from other parts of the town, and is by far a more commodious and better equipped building than the average country town offers.
Today the building is a Masonic Hall, home to Corinthian Lodge #103, which was established in 1868. Corinthian #103’s first Lodge was located in the Northford section of North Branford. After a fire in 1879 Corinthian #103 moved into Totoket Hall in North Branford and in 1917 to Linsley Hall in North Haven. After the Town Fire Marshall ordered Linsley Hall closed because of fire hazard in 1945, the Lodge acquired and renovated the old District No. 4 School, which was dedicated as the new Lodge on November 1, 1947.
Many of the building’s decorative features and many of its windows have been removed over the years.
The City Mission Building (also known as the City Missionary Society Building) is located at 234 Pearl Street in Hartford. The Hartford City Mission (also called the City Missionary Society) was founded in 1851 by the city’s six Congregational Churches to provide for the welfare of Hartford’s poor through Sunday schools, cooking and sewing classes and charity work. Designed by architect William D. Johnson, the building on Pearl Street was constructed in 1890-1891. It is a three-story structure with a tower on the side adjacent to the Goodwin Building. An illustration of a different design for the building appeared in August of 1890 in the Hartford Times and the Hartford Weekly Times. A clipping of this article was placed in the scrapbook kept by the architectural firm of Cook, Hapgood & Co. I am not sure why this design was not used.
An article in the Hartford Courant on August 14, 1890 (“Some New Buildings; Pearl Street Will Become a Busy Thoroughfare”) described “the new and handsome building of the City Mission, which when completed will be not only one of the prettiest but one of the most substantial buildings on the street.” The article mentions that “The second floor will contain a hall capable of seating two hundred and fifty people and a large room for the meetings of the City Mission board, and the ladies of the City Mission Association.” City Mission Hall was a meeting place for various events, including the golden wedding celebration of lawyer John Hooker and his wife, Isabella Beecher Hooker, a women’s suffragist and sister of Harriet Beecher Stowe.
The City Missionary Society sold the building in 1910, relocating to another building they had erected six years earlier on Village Street. The old organization no longer exists, but a new Hartford City Mission began serving youth in Hartford’s North End in 1998. The building on Pearl Street was later used by the Italian-American Home and then served as the offices of a family of attorneys. The building has recently been on the market.
Camp Bethel is a historic Christian camp meeting site in the Tylerville section of Haddam that is located on a high bluff overlooking the Connecticut River. It was established in 1878 by the Life and Advent Union. In the early years as many as 10,000 people would gather on the property for several weeks each summer. At first they stayed in tents but later began building small cottages on their camp sites. Over the years Camp Bethel grew to include a chapel, a memorial hall, two boarding houses and over forty cabins. Most of these structures were built between 1889 and 1920. The current Dining Hall was built in 1992, replacing an earlier building destroyed by fire. Camp Bethel continues to operate as a camp meeting site today, one of the few that survive in New England. It is owned by the Camp Bethel Association, a non-denominational, evangelical organization that holds camp meetings each August and also rents the facility to different religious and educational groups for retreats, conferences and workshops. [If you are interested in learning about another camp meeting site with Victorian cottages in Connecticut, see my post about the Plainville Campground]. Read on to learn more about some of the buildings and to see more images of Camp Bethel! Read the rest of this entry »
The Middletown chapter of the Alpha Delta Phi literary society, based at Wesleyan University, was formed in 1856. The fraternity’s first chapter house was built in 1884. It was demolished twenty years later and replaced on the same lot (185 High Street) by the current building (completed in 1906) designed by Charles Alonzo Rich (who also designed two dozen buildings at Dartmouth College between 1893 and 1914). An addition was built onto the rear in 1925. Alpha Delta Phi has been coed since 1972 and is one of the coed chapters that withdrew from the fraternity to form the separate Alpha Delta Phi Society in 1992.
The former Temple B’Nai Israel at 265 West Main Street in New Britain was built in 1927-1929 as a Masonic Temple. It was designed by architect Walter P. Crabtree. The Masons sold the building to the Jewish congregation Aheyu B’Nai Israel (Brethren Sons of Israel) in 1940. Aheyu B’Nai Israel was organized in 1889 as an Orthodox congregation, but reorganized as Conservative in 1924. Members who held to Orthodox views split off and built Tephereth Israel Synagogue. Temple B’Nai Israel closed in the summer of 2007. Its Torah scrolls were transferred to the Hillel organizations at Trinity College, the University of Hartford, and the University of Connecticut
In 1819, on Washington Green, a meeting house was constructed on the site where the Judea Parish House stands today. The building had a large upstairs space for town and church meetings and the walls were lined with shelves that held the town’s first library. The first floor had several rooms. These were used for a time by the Judea Female Seminary, run by Mary Brinsmade, sister-in-law of Frederick W. Gunn, founder of the Gunnery School. In the 1870s, Gunn moved the building to its current location (16 Kirby Road), attaching a former one-room district school house to the rear. After Gunn‘s death in 1881, the house was the residence of his widow, Abigail Irene Brinsmade Gunn, familiarly known to Gunnery students as Aunt Abbey. For several years the house was a dormitory for the Gunnery School known as The Abbey. In 1912 it again became a private residence. It was remodeled by its new owners, who added a north wing around 1919-1925.