In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Grove Street in Glastonbury was the home to a diverse immigrant community that included Germans, Poles and Ukrainians. Many residents worked nearby at the Williams Brothers Silver Company. A German Lutheran Church, built on Grove Street in 1902, became St. John The Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church in 1925. The area was redeveloped in the 1970s and the church was in the path of a new road linking Main Street and the New London Turnpike. In 1973, developer David MacClain was given approval for a residential project to be built across from his Glen Lochen Marketplace (completed 1975). His proposal included providing a new home for the church at the corner of a new Grove Street. He only charged the church for moving fees that were within the $45,000 the Redevelopment Agency had paid for the building. The church was moved to its current address at 26 New London Turnpike early in 1974.
Sources: “Ukrainian Church, a Landmark, Seen Surviving Redevelopment,” by George Graves (Hartford Courant, August 19, 1973); “Redevelopment Agency Vows To Keep Church,” by George Graves (Hartford Courant, September 28, 1973); “Ukrainian Church Expected To Be Relocated This Week,” (Hartford Courant, February 10, 1974).
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.
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 »
Merry Christmas from Historic Buildings of Connecticut! Known as the Mother Church of Norwalk, Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church serves the second oldest parish in the Diocese of Bridgeport. The parish was founded by Norwalk’s Irish immigrants and the first St. Mary’s Church, located on Chapel Street, opposite Academy Street, was dedicated in 1851. The Irish community continued to grow and ground was broken in 1867 for a new and larger church. The basement chapel was dedicated the following year and the completed upper church was dedicated in 1870. Designed by James Murphy, the church, located at 669 West Avenue in Norwalk, recently underwent substantial renovations under the direction of Duncan Stroik, professor of architecture at the University of Notre Dame.
After the Civil War, there was an influx of Irish immigrants arriving in South Manchester to work at the Cheney Brothers’ silk mill. The Cheneys donated an acre of land on Main Street where the cornerstone for a new Catholic church was laid in August of 1874. The silk factory was closed that day to allow full attendance of Catholic residents. In spite of the liberal attitude of the Cheneys, there was also anti-Catholic sentiment in Manchester. The unfinished church was vandalized during the night of May 4-5, 1876. Thirty-five stained glass windows were smashed, altar ornaments were stolen and the vandals attempted to set the church on fire. Work on Saint James Church continued and the Gothic edifice was dedicated on August 20, 1876.