The grand High Victorian Gothic-style Humphreys Building is prominently situated at 131-139 Main Street in downtown Seymour. The building was erected in 1891 by Carlos French (1835-1903), a prominent businessman and industrialist in Seymour.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 220 Valley Street in Willimantic began as a mission of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Windham in 1865. Services were held in a rented hall until 1883. The history of the church can be found in A Modern History of Windham County, Connecticut, Vol. I (1920), edited by Allen B. Lincoln, from which the following details are excerpted:
In the year 1884, however, a small frame church building in Central Village was moved to the site. of the present edifice, on the corner of Walnut and Valley streets. [. . .] With the building came also the altar, the old communion set, and vestments. And thus after thirty years St. Paul’s, Willimantic, became a corporate parish, the first resident rector of which was the Rev. Isaac W. Hallam. From that time on the positions of the little mother church in Windham and her sturdy offspring in Willimantic were partially reversed; Willimantic becoming the residence of their mutual rector and absorbing the greater part of his time. [. . .] Meantime, a fund known as the Isabella Tracy Eaton Fund, was left to the parish, and from this the Missionary Society purchased a plot of ground adjoining the church property and erected a rectory thereon. [. . .]
A movement was started during Mr. Hatch’s incumbency to build a new church. A legacy of $20,000 had been left the parish by Mrs. Boardman of New Haven toward the erection of a new edifice for St. Paul’s parish, Willimantic, with the proviso that the parish should raise the needed balance. Pledges were secured for the amount, but the actual cash had not been turned in and Trinity College, Hartford, another beneficiary under the will, raised the legal technicality that the letter of the proviso had not been met, and the courts allowed only $10,000 of Mrs. Boardman’s estate to be applied to St. Paul’s legacy. This proceeding was regarded by many as a new proof that law and justice are not as close as hand and glove. As a local paper stated warmly, “Pledges as good as the Bank of England were secured,” but the law took its bland course and Trinity College was as triumphant as the cat that swallowed the canary.
However, the Missionary Society of the Diocese, deeming that the spirit of the will had been kept by the parish, added $9,500 to the $10,000 and the balance of $22,000 was raised by the people, with the consequence that the new church was built, and on September 24, 1913, was duly consecrated by Bishop Brewster.
The new structure is of gray stone, the interior finished in quartered oak. The old building was turned into a parish house, while the old chancel with its altar was enclosed and is used as a sacristy. [. . .]
Seven years after the new church building was completed, it was found necessary to partly rebuild the same as grave fundamental faults of construction had grown more and more evident. During the year 1919-1920 the work was done at an outlay of some $15,000. At the same time the parish house was enlarged and renovated. A new kitchen was built, a G.F.S. room added and furnished by the members of that society, who for the most part have shown themselves enthusiastic and conscientious church workers. The rectory was also thoroughly repaired. On Easter Day, 1920, the church was re-dedicated by Bishop E. C. Acheson.
The religious sentiment of Willimantic is now represented by six churches, viz., Congregational, Methodist, Baptist, Roman Catholic, Protestant Episcopal and Spiritualist. These have all been built up here since the year 1827. Up to the close of that year there was no church nearer than Windham Centre, nor any stated meetings except such as were held in a school house or in private houses. In the year mentioned a few persons here applied to the directors of the Connecticut Domestic Missionary Society for a minister. [. . .]
January 22d, 1828, an ecclesiastical council was called, of which Doctor Samuel Nott, of Franklin, was chosen moderator, and this council organized the First Congregational church of Willimantic. [. . .]
A church edifice was immediately erected, and was dedicated October 17th, 1828, Doctor Joel Hawes preaching the sermon. This was the first house of worship in the place. The expense of building it was a burden from which those who undertook it delivered themselves only after a determined struggle. The present society was formed soon after the church was built. [. . .] In 1843 the house of worship was considerably enlarged. [. . .]
On the acceptance of the call of Reverend Horace Winslow, the question of a new house of worship was earnestly advocated, and on February 24th, 1869, the society resolved to proceed to the work, and accordingly appointed a building committee composed of John Tracy, Allen Lincoln, William C. Jillson and the pastor elect. In July of that year the corner stone was laid, and in one year from that time the main edifice was dedicated to the worship of God. The expenses of this enterprise were provided for in various ways. To begin with, the society had from subscriptions and the sale of the old house $19,578. This fund was steadily increased by special efforts, so that when the main portion of the building was completed the debt was only a little over $9,000. In May, 1871, the chapel was completed and dedicated to the service of God. In about a year from that time it was proposed to pay off the whole debt of the society, which amounted then to $12,600. This amount was raised by the 1st of October, 1872. The whole cost of church, grounds, chapel, furniture, organ and all, amounted to $46,700, and it had all been paid, so that the society was free from debt. A service of praise and gratulation was held in view of the auspicious financial condition. Since then money has been raised and the chapel and adjoining rooms have been painted, carpeted and seated. The size of the main edifice on the ground is one hundred by sixty-three feet, and the chapel addition and adjoining room is ninety by thirty-six feet.
Much altered over the years, the house at 20 Hurlbutt Road in Gales Ferry Village in Ledyard was built in 1848 by Ralph Arthur, who soon sold it to Henry Comstock (1811-1854). A whaling captain, Comstock departed on the Louisa Beaton in 1853 on what would be his final voyage. He died of “African fever” at Ascension Island on March 23, 1854.
Waterbury Assembly of God is a church located at 101 Prospect Street in Naugatuck. The church was built c. 1900. I think it may have been built originally as a Baptist Church, as described in History of Waterbury and the Naugatuck Valley, Connecticut, Vol. I (1918), by William J. Pape:
Among the citizens living in the Salem society soon after 1800 were a number of Baptists, who first worshipped in the church in Waterbury. In October, 1817, sixty persons living in Salem, Prospect and Bethany were set off from the Waterbury society to organize a new church in the localities indicated. Two meeting-houses were built, one on Fulling Mill Brook, and by December 22, 1819, the second was organized in the Straitsville locality.
It is the one on Fulling Mill Brook which later became the Naugatuck Baptist Church, with a fine church edifice on Prospect Street, in Union City.
Clinton AME Zion Church in Ansonia was originally organized in Derby in 1874/1875. Early meetings were held in a hall over J. P. Swift’s Store, later Pucella’s Garage, at the corner of New Haven Avenue and Gilbert Street in Derby. The church affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1882 and adopted the name its pastor, Rev. J. J. Clinton, in 1888, incorporating as Clinton Memorial AME Zion Church. A new church building was erected on Derby Avenue, but the church later decided to relocate to Ansonia, which had a growing African American population. According to Ansonia assessor’s information, the new church, located at 96 Central Street, was built in 1950. The church had to be repaired after it was damaged in the flood of 1956 (see “$5,800 Spells Restored Hopes For Flood-Hit Ansonia Church,” Hartford Courant, February 4, 1956).
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 »