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.
At 494 Harbor Road in Southport in the town of Fairfield is a Gothic Revival house built in 1848 for Allen Nichols, who was in the dry goods business. The house was later remodeled in the Second Empire style and had a cupola, since removed. Nearby are two other houses built by members of the Nichols family.
The Congregational church in Northford in North Branford was established in 1750. The original meeting house stood just south of the present church building, which was built in 1846. Designed by Henry Austin of New Haven, the Portland brownstone church originally had a taller wood steeple that was destroyed in a disastrous fire in 1906. The fire also gutted the interior of the church, which had to be reworked. Other changes over the years included the rebuilding of the external walls on at least two occasions (1863 and 1873). Most recently, the church’s newer wooden tower, built after the fire in 1906, was removed in 2010. The wood had rotted to such an extent that the large bronze bell in the tower was unstable (engineers believed that the bell’s weight was the only thing keeping the wood tower from blowing off in a high wind!). The church plans to restore the wood tower and a fundraising campaign is underway to “Save The Bell Tower.”
In 1895 St. Rose Catholic parish in Meriden purchased a chapel on West Main Street from the Trinity Methodist Church to serve its expanding membership in the city’s west side. Originally dedicated to the Sacred Heart, the chapel soon became St. Joseph’s Church when a new parish was created in 1900. The site for a new church, at the corner of West Main Street and Goodwill Avenue, was purchased the following year and the cornerstone was laid on October 12, 1902. A basement chapel opened in 1903 and the completed St. Joseph Church was dedicated in early 1908.
A reader who contacted me on Facebook a while back noted the similarities of the former Sacred Heart Church at 32 Garden Street in Wethersfield to another Catholic church, St. Augustine Church in Glastonbury. Perhaps they used the same plans? Sacred Heart Parish began as a mission of St. Mary, East Hartford in 1877 and later became a mission of St. Lawrence O’Toole, Hartford. The building on Garden Street, which was the first Catholic church in Wethersfield, was erected in 1880, on a lot purchased in 1876. The church was dedicated on May 29, 1881. Sacred Heart was made a parish on September 1, 1897 and in 1924 moved to a new building, the former Meggat Seed Warehouse on Hartford Avenue, which was converted into a church. A fire in 1938 forced the congregation to move back into the Garden Street church. By 1943 the former Meggat granary was again made a church and was used by the parish until the current Sacred Heart Church, at 56 Hartford Avenue, was dedicated on June 29, 1963. In the 1940s the former Sacred Heart Church on Garden Street became storage for John Oldham Art and Display (now Oldham Studios). The company was founded in 1931 by John W. Oldham, Sr., an illustrator who painted portraits of movie stars for film premiers in the Hartford area. Continued by his son and grandson, the company expanded into a trade show display design and fabrication company, based at 888 Wells Road in Wethersfield. The Queen Anne house next to the church was built in 1900 as the parish rectory. Read the rest of this entry »