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 »
Hartford’s Swedish Emanuel Methodist Church was organized in 1896. The congregation worshiped in a room in the Boardman Building on Asylum Street before moving to a church building at the corner of Hungerford and Grand Streets in 1899. In 1921 the church dedicated its second building at the corner of Boulevard and Lockwood Terrace in West Hartford. Originally services were conducted only in Swedish, but in 1941 the Eastern Swedish Conference was dissolved and the church affiliated with the East New York Conference of the Methodist Church, discontinuing the use of Swedish. In 1957 the church acquired property at 1358 New Britain Avenue and soon began construction of what is now the Westb Hartford United Methodist Church. That same year the old church on Boulevard was sold and became the Boulevard Baptist Church. Today the building is home to Angels On Assignment Christian Church and Jesus the Cornerstone Pentecostal Church of Hartford.
The first Catholic house of worship in Ansonia was a white frame chapel erected on Main Street in 1867-1868. It was named The Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Starting as a mission of Derby, parish status was conferred in 1870. A new church, designed by architect Patrick C. Keeley, was later erected over eighteen years at 61 North Cliff Street. Ground was broken in 1889 and the cornerstone was put into place on Sunday, September 6, 1891. The basement chapel was completed and began to be used in 1900 (it was later remodeled to become the Church Hall in 1967). The completed edifice was dedicated in June 1907. The original plan called for a tower that was never built.