First Congregational Church of South Windham (1902)

March 5th, 2017 Posted in Churches, Folk Victorian, Gothic, Queen Anne, Windham

The early religious history of the village of South Windham (part of the town of Windham) is provided by Richard M. Bayles in his History of Windham County, Connecticut (1889):

The only church of this village is an offshoot from the Congregational church of Windham. For twenty-five years, more or less, services have been conducted here on occasional Sabbaths or on week-day evenings. The old Fitch school house is used for religious services. This is a building once intended for a private school, and is rented of private owners for religious services. It stands near and is connected with the Warner House, a hotel of commodious size standing near the depot of the New London Northern railroad. It is now owned by Alfred Kinne. For a few years back religious services on Sunday have been omitted, but in March, 1888, a Society of Christian Endeavor was formed here, and in the following December a church was organized, which now numbers eighteen members. During the winter a revival occurred. Since December 7th, 1888, preaching services have been held every Sunday afternoon by the pastor of the old church at Windham Centre. A Sunday school is also maintained here.

Once this church, which was a branch of the Windham Congregational Church, was established in the village in 1888, a Ladies’ Missionary Society was also formed which began collecting for a fund to erect a church edifice in South Windham. As related in the Hartford Courant (“Church Dedication,” October 22, 1902):

President Guilford Smith of the Smith Winchester Company became interested in the project and it was very largely through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Smith that the branch society is now possessed of the beautiful church. The donations of Mr. and Mrs. Smith were supplemented by those of almost every one who resided in the village and by many who lived out of the place, but had it not been for the generous gifts of land and money by Mr. and Mrs. Smith it is not likely that the society would have realized its long cherish[ed] hope for many years.

The Courant article further concluded that “probably no manufacturing village of the size can boast of so finely appointed and convenient a church building.” The church, located at 361 South Windham Street, was dedicated on October 21, 1902.

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