St. John’s Episcopal Church, located at 679 Farmington Avenue in West Hartford, was preceded by the parish’s original church, located on Main Street in downtown Hartford. Designed by noted New Haven architect Henry Austin during the period he had an office in Hartford, the first St. John’s Church was consecrated on April 30, 1842. The main body of the church and the lower section of its tower were constructed of Portland brownstone. The upper tower and spire were made of wood and had to be removed in 1875 due to structural decay. In 1905, the parish decided to sell its land on Main Street to the trustees of the Wadsworth Atheneum. The church was taken down in 1907 and the Atheneum’s Morgan Memorial Building was erected in its place. (You can read more about the original St. John’s Church on Main Street in my book Vanished Downtown Hartford, pp. 128-131).
Downtown Hartford had been developing rapidly as a business and commercial center at the time and many churches there were relocating to more residential areas to the west. The new St. John’s Church was built in 1907-1909 on Farmington Avenue, just across the Hartford line in West Hartford. The new church, designed by noted architect Bertram G. Goodhue, was consecrated on June 9, 1909. Due to budgetary limitations, Goodhue’s plans for an adjoining parish house were not completed until 1914-1915. The cornerstone for a new and larger parish house was laid in 1927 and at the same time the church built a cloister and outdoor pulpit. In 1928 the nave was lengthened to the north, toward Farmington Avenue, and a new entrance was built on that side (the previous entrance had faced west towards Highland Avenue). The church was extensively restored and altered inside after a fire in 1992.
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 American-Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manchester was organized in 1952. Nine years later, in 1961, the congregation purchased a church at the corner of Garden and Winter Streets from Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church, a German Lutheran congregation, which had just relocated to a new building on Pitkin Street. The first German Lutheran church in Manchester was Zion Church, organized in 1890. In 1893, just months before the dedication of their new church on Cooper Street, the congregation split over the issue of church members also being members of secret fraternal organizations. Those who objected to denying church membership to members of these organizations formed the new Concordia Church. In 1896 the Concordia congregation built the church at 21 Garden Street that is now home to the American-Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
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 »
Emanuel Lutheran Church was founded in the 1870s by Swedish immigrants who were settling in Manchester to work at the Cheney silk mills. The first church building of the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Emanuel Church was completed by the Christmas of 1886. When the need for a larger church arose, Dr. P.J. Cornell, Pastor of the church, drew up the plans and ground was broken on May 10, 1914. After two years the basement was completed and was used for services until the upper structure was ready. The completed church was dedicated on March 18, 1923.
The community of Southport in the town of Fairfield has two historic railroad stations (one eastbound and one westbound) on the New Haven Line of the Metro-North Railroad (originally a line of the the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad). The older of the two is the eastbound station, built in 1884 to replace an earlier railroad depot destroyed in a fire. It is typical of the brick stations that were built in Connecticut in the 1880s, but with more than usual attention to its decorative roof that reflects the High Victorian Gothic and Eastlake styles. No longer used as a station, the building is now home to Paci Restaurant. Read the rest of this entry »