The Norwich State Hospital, located in Norwich and Preston, was an extensive facility for the mentally ill and those found guilty of crimes by insanity. It opened in 1904 in a single building, but in the following eight years 13 new structures were added. The Hospital had over 3,000 patients by 1955 and was a huge complex of over twenty buildings linked by underground tunnels. In later years deinstitutionalization led to a large decrease in the patient population and the Hospital closed in 1996. It then became an infamous abandoned site, said to be haunted. The complex was frequently visited by urban explorers. Syfy Channel’s Ghost Hunters visted the site in 2010, but since then the majority of the buildings have been demolished in preparation for future redevelopment. Once at the center of the Hospital, the Administration Building, built in 1908, now stands alone, weatherized to prevent further decay and awaiting future development.
When I took a picture of the old Congregational Church, at in Willington on Wednesday, it was having some wok done (no doubt in response to this proposal)! The Congregational Church in Willington was established around 1728.
As described in the Tolland County Press (published in Stafford Springs) of October 12, 1876, p. 3:
THE NEW CHURCH. —One cold dreary evening during the past winter, the members of the Congregational society met together in the study of the old church to talk over the subject of building a new house of worship. A few were opposed to the project, but most of the members were heartily in favor of the proposed enterprise. Thus the long-needed work of building a new church was in embryo, which is now completed, and on Tuesday last was dedicated to the worship of Almighty God. Before giving an account of the dedication we will devote a brief space to a description of the edifice. At a subsequent meeting held in the early spring, it was voted to build, and nearly $1,000 was pledged by the people toward the enterprise. April 12th ground was broken for the building, on land generously donated by Mr. Geo. E. Robbins, and April 29th the corner stone was laid with religious ceremonies.
On Saturday, June 17th, the body of the main building was raised, and soon after the conference room. From the very beginning the work has progressed finely, everything seeming to work in the favor of the church and society. The main building is 36×46, and the conference room is 22×26, both built in Gothic style. A handsome tower rises from the center of the front end of the church, to the height of 61 feet. Near the top of the tower are four dormer windows, from which one has a fine commanding view of a wide expanse of country. Above the mam entrance is a triple window, which, surrounded by a neat display of architectural work, adds much to the beauty of the tower, which is surmounted by a neat vane. The main entrance is from the south, leading through a vestibule 12 feet square, into the audience room. This is neatly finished with open timbered roof, beautifully jetted with fancy brackets and scroll work. Tbe windows, which are of flicked glass, are finished with architraves. The ceiling is tinted with blue, while the walls are of light drab. The pulpit elevation is at tbe opposite end, with the orchestra on tbe left, both highly finished in oak and black walnut. The elegant railing around the latter, together with the breast-work in front of the slips, add much to the architectural beauty of the room. There are 46 slips, with a seating capacity of 230. The church is furnished with a fine pulpit set, including a communion table, bible stand, etc., from Baldwin Bros, of Springfield. In the orchestra is a superb organ of the Esty manufacture, the gift of E. T. Fitch, of New Haven. On its south wall is a handsome clock, donated by H. L. Wade, secretary of the Waterbury Clock Manufacturing Co., while the highly ornamented chandeliers, containing six lamps, also six side lamps, was the gift of L. G. Merrick, Esq. of Bristol, Conn. On Tuesday, Oct. 10th, the new edifice was dedicated to the worship of Almighty God. The weather was everything desirable, in perfect harmony with the interesting occasion. The church was filled to its utmost.
The Congregational Church merged with the Willington Baptist Church in 1911 to form The Federated Church of Willington. The congregation then moved to the Baptist meeting house across the Green. From 1926 to 1974 the old Congregational Church was used as the Town Hall, so the former church is also known as the Willington Old Town Hall. The church’s bell, purchsed from the First Church in Stafford in 1876, was removed during World War II to allow airplane spotters to used the tower. Instead of being placed back in the tower, it was mounted on a pedestal outside the building.
In 1908 the Salvation Army constructed a Military Gothic-style Corps (church) building, known as the Citadel, at 661 Main Street in Manchester. The Salvation Army ministry in Manchester had been established in 1887. In 2001 the church planned to demolish the building and construct a new one. There were objections from local preservationists, who did not want to see the building, unique in the state, destroyed. The Salvation Army then came up with a new plan that would renovate the existing Citadel and attach a modern addition for a chapel. The cost was doubled, but the Citadel was saved. The new chapel was opened in 2003.
The former St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Middlefield (was built in 1862 with support from the Church of the Holy Trinity in Middletown. There were never many Episcopalians in Middlefield and the church had closed by 1911. The neighboring Levi E. Coe Library acquired the Carpenter Gothic structure in 1920 and renamed it Library Hall. A modern addition now connects the two structures.
The house at 31 Broadway in North Haven was built in 1870 by builder Solomon Linsley for Frank L. Stiles (1854-1922), a prominent brick manufacturer. Stiles is described in the Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut (Vol. VII, 1909-1910):
Hon. Frank L. Stiles, of North Haven, Republican Senator from the Twelfth District, is the son of Isaac L. and Sophronia M. (Blakeslee) Stiles, and was born at North Haven July 12, 1854. He is a direct descendant of the Rev. Ezra Stiles, who was president of Yale College. He received his education at the famous Cheshire Academy and when eighteen years of age began to learn the brickmakers’ business in his father’s plant. Senator Stiles is now president and treasurer of the Stiles & Hart Brick Company, Taunton, Mass., president and treasurer of The Stiles & Reynolds Brick Company, Berlin, Conn., and also of the I. L. Stiles & Son Brick Company. North Haven, Conn., one of the largest establishments of its kind in the country. He is also deeply interested in agricultural pursuits, having half a dozen farms at North Haven and Taunton. On December 22, 1886. Senator Stiles married Mary Amelia Dickerman. a descendant of some of the old families of New England. He is a warden of St. John’s Episcopal Church, a thirty-second degree Mason, a member of the Union League of New Haven and of organizations in Meriden, Providence and other cities. He represented his town in the General Assembly of 1903. As chairman, this session, of the Committee on Agriculture, he promoted the enactment of legislation salutary to the entire state. Senator Stiles was also chairman of the Committee on Forfeited Rights and a member of the Committee on Incorporations. He is treasurer of the Connecticut Legislative Club of 1909. Senator Stiles has a wide circle of strong friends who greatly admire him for his sterling qualities and upright character.
The house is now called the Criscuolo Building and houses medical offices.
While some sources (including the nomination for the Wall Street Historic District) date the construction of the Bishop Building, a two-section commercial building at 64 Wall Street in Norwalk, to 1935, an article in The Norwalk Hour, “New Woolworth Opens Friday” (September 5, 1940), provides a different timeline. According to the article, the first section of the building was constructed by William Bishop in 1928 (or was it 1923?) on the site of the old Bishop Homestead. He was born in the Homestead, which he inherited and tore down for his building, which originally had 35 offices and three stores on the first floor. It was the first office building in the city to have a passenger elevator. In 1938, Bishop was approached by the F. W. Woolworth Company to open a branch of their five-and-dime stores in Norwalk. He purchased the adjacent Ambler Block and remodeled it to become part of an enlarged Bishop Building, in which the Woolworth store opened in 1940. Woolworth would later move to another location on Wall Street. Many other businesses have been located in the Bishop Building, including WNLK radio station and Kiddytown toy store (closed in 1995). It is now home to My Three Sons.
The first Catholic Mass in Manchester was was celebrated in 1848, by Rev. John Brady of Hartford, in the house of mill worker John Kennedy. As described in a history of “The Church in Manchester,” that appeared in The Sacred Heart Review (No. 14, April 3, 1897):
Next morning Mr. Kennedy was discharged by the foreman of the mill in which he was employed; but the mill-owner, Mr. Buell, hearing of this action, discharged the bigot and reinstated Mr. Kennedy. Fr. Brady came at intervals until 1850, when Rev. James Smyth began visiting Manchester at stated times, saying Mass in the house of James Duffy, on Union street.
As related in the history of the Diocese of Hartford by Rev. James H. O’Donnell in vol. 2 of the History of the Catholic Church in the New England States (1899):
When Rev. Peter Egan assumed charge of the Catholics of [St. Bernard parish,] Rockville in 1854, their co-religionists of Manchester passed under his jurisdiction. His pastorate was marked by the purchase of a church lot from Mr. E. Weaver, at a cost of £200. This site was one of the most eligible and commanding in the neighborhood. The Rev. Bernard Tully, who succeeded Father Egan in December, 1856, set about to carry out the designs of his predecessor. On Tuesday, October 19, 1858, the frame of the new church was raised in the presence of a large congregation, most of them Irish-Americans. The Cheney Brothers stopped their mills in order to render all the assistance possible. The dedication occurred on Decembers, 1858; 500 persons were present in the church on the occasion. The celebrant of the Mass was the Rev. Father O’Dwyer of Collinsville, and an appropriate discourse was delivered by Rev. Thomas Quinn of Meriden. Thenceforth to 1869, St. Bridget’s church was served from Rockville
St. Bridget parish was established in 1869 and Father James Campbell became the town’s first resident Catholic pastor. By the turn of the century the parish required a larger church. The cornerstone for a new church was blessed on January 25, 1896. and Bishop Michael A. Tierney blessed the completed St. Bridget Church, located at 80 Main Street, on November 26, 1903.