Earlier this month I featured buildings at the Hancock Shaker Village on my site Historic Buildings of Massachusetts. Connecticut also had a Shaker village. It was located in Enfield, but not nearly as many of its buildings have survived and they have been restored as they have at Hancock. On this site, I’ve already featured the South Family Residence and the adjacent laundry, ice house and dairy. The Enfield Shaker community grew to include five “families.” Besides the South Family, there were the North, East and West Families and, centrally located, was the Church Family. The first to be organized, the Church Family had overall control over the entire Enfield Shaker settlement. The last Enfield Shakers left the area in 1917. The State of Connecticut purchased the former Shaker property in 1931 for what is now the Enfield Correctional Institution. One of only two buildings to survive from the Church Family is the former Meeting House/Trustee House. Built in 1827, the building had an open meeting hall for the entire community and (perhaps later?) housed the Trustees, who handled the community‘s dealings with the outside world. Shakers were associated with reform movements, such as abolitionism: Sojourner Truth once spoke at the Meeting House.
Industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie funded the construction of thousands of libraries in North America, Europe and Oceania, including the one at 159 Pearl Street in Enfield. Carnegie provided $20,000 for the library, which covered the land, construction and furnishings. John Pickens, who successfully petitioned Carnegie for the funds in 1910, at first faced resistance from the town, which feared the library would be a burden. Pickens persevered and the library opened on May 5, 1914. The building later became a branch library after a new Enfield Center Library was built in 1967. Interestingly, there is also a Carnegie Library in the London Borough of Enfield.
The former Methodist Episcopal Church of Thompsonville, in Enfield, is located at 25 High Street. As related in the second volume of the Memorial History of Hartford County (1886), “In 1840, chiefly through the labors of the Rev. John Howson, who had come from England for employment in the carpet-works, the Methodist Episcopal Church of Thompsonville was formed.” The church was officially organized in 1841 and a church edifice was later erected on High Street, east of Pearl Street. The building pictured above was built in 1884, west of Pearl Street. The church, later known as the Enfield United Methodist Church, moved to a modern building on Brainard Road in 1964. The old church was sold to Amvets. It is currently vacant and up for sale.
St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, at 28 Prospect Street in Thompsonville, Enfield, was built in 1859. According to the Memorial History of Hartford County, Vol. II (1886): “The Episcopal Church of Thompsonville was organized as a mission in 1851, and as St. Andrew’s Parish in 1855, and is gathering to itself an increasing number of adherents.”
Happy Easter! Built in 1872 with funds provided by Col. Augustus Hazard (whose powder mill was 100 yards away), the Hazardville United Methodist Church is located at 330 Hazard Avenue in Enfield. The church‘s earlier building, constructed in 1835, still survives further west on Hazard Avenue. In 1923, a three story addition was built in the rear of the 1872 church that provided space for a Ladies Parlor, classrooms, kitchen and a heating plant.
The Shaker community in Enfield (not to be confused with the Shakers of Enfield, New Hampshire) was established in 1792 and survived until 1917. 100 buildings were once a part of the Enfield Shaker Village, of which only 15 survive today. Living communally, the Shakers in Enfield grew to include five family complexes. The residence building of the South Family, on Cybulski Road, survives today. It is a three and a half story brick building with a wooden belfry. It has been converted into a private residence. There are other adjacent surviving Shaker buildings. Read the rest of this entry »