The Ecclesiastical Society for the North section of Stonington first met in 1721. The Society soon built a meeting house at “Meeting House Corner,” at the intersection of Wyassup and Reutemann Roads. The building, which became known as “the old black meeting house” because of the weathered condition of its unpainted wood, was taken down in 1817 and its wood was used to build a new meeting house at what is now 89 Main Street in North Stonington. Earlier, in 1746, the congregation had been divided. Influenced by the preaching of James Davenport of Long Island, a “New Light” preacher, many left the church to join a new Separate Church, called the Strict Congregational Church. They built their own meeting house over a mile west of North Stonington (Milltown) village. By 1817 the two churches had grown closer and both needed a new meeting house. They shared the newly erected building, officially reuniting as one church in 1827. The current meeting house was built in 1848 on the site of the 1817 edifice. In 1886, funds donated by Dudley R. Wheeler provided the church with stained glass windows and cherry wood pews, pulpit and wainscoting. The church was rededicated in April, 1887.
Located at 17 Bozrah Street, across from Fitchville Pond, is the Bozrah Congregational Church, built in 1843. The congregation, originally the New Concord Ecclesiastical Society, was formed in 1737 within the town of Norwich. Bozrah became a separate town in 1786. The congregation had had two previous meetinghouses: the first meeting house was located on the east side of Bozrah Street, south of the present building; the second was built around 1770, on the west side of Bozrah Street, opposite the original building. The current church was built after two years of controversy over whether to repair the old meetinghouse or build a new one. The land for the building was donated by Asa Fitch. The church’s stonework was done by Nathaniel Rudd, a local mason, using granite provided by Elijah Abel from a quarry on Bashon Hill Road, and the building was constructed by Willimantic contractor Lloyd E. Baldwin.
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.
The first Congregational church building, or meetinghouse, in Newington was built in 1716. By 1784 the congregation needed a new building, but the bitter debate over where to erect it lasted thirteen years. Some members forcefully supported relocating the church from the center of the parish to the southern part. These members owned extensive tracts of land there and wanted to increase the vale of their property. The church society finally agreed to build the church in 1797 in the center of Newington. Those on the losing side separated from the congregation to build their own church, an Episcopal church called Christ Church, on what is now Church Street. The church only lasted for thirteen years and the building was then torn down. Newington’s Church of Christ Congregational, on the other hand, prospered. A parish house was added in 1893 and and a new two-story brick parish house in 1949. The 1797 church was torn down in 1960 to make way for the current church building, designed by architect Francis Newell of the firm of Jeter and Cook and built by Wadhams and May Construction Company. The cornerstone was laid on October 23, 1960 and the building was dedicated on March 5, 1961. A new three-story addition was dedicated in 1997. For more information see Barbara Lukens, “Facilities Often Shared By Newington Church” (Hartford Courant, February 12, 1956); Jean Weatherbee, “Dedication Set Sunday For Church Buildings” (Hartford Courant, March 1, 1961) & “Tombstones Mark Site Of Newington ‘Battle'” (Hartford Courant, April 30, 1961).
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.”
The Second Congregational Church of Norwalk, later called the South Norwalk Congregational Church, was formed in 1836 by members of the First Congregational Church who wanted to build a new church in the village of Old Well, which later became the City of South Norwalk. Its first church building was completed that same year and was enlarged in 1856. Ground was broken for a new and larger church on May 31, 1888. The structure (the current address is 4 Dr Martin Luther King, Jr Drive) was completed and the first services were held on the last Sunday in December 1889. The formal dedication took place early in January 1890. By the early 1970s the church had a dwindling membership. It sold its building and merged with United Congregational Church in West Norwalk. The former South Norwalk Congregational Church is now Little Zion Church of Christ of the Apostolic Faith. The steeple was hit by lightning in September 2014 which started a fire that caused some damage to the roof.
The town of Ledyard was set off from Groton and incorporated in 1836. Previous to this the territory which it covers was for many years known as the Second or North Parish in Groton. The Ecclesiastical Society in this North Parish was organized in 1725, with six or seven members, and at once took measures to find, by actual measurement, the exact centre of the parish as the proper place for a meeting-house. That centre was found to be “in the north-east corner of Stephen Morgan’s goat pasture.” Upon the spot thus designated the erection of a meeting-house was begun in 1727. The present church edifice stands partly on the same ground, but a little further back from the highway. The Congregational Church was organized in 1729. The early history of the Church for about 80 years, is veiled in obscurity. During the last 39 of these 80 years the Church had no settled pastor, and at sometime in this period became extinct; and its records, if it ever had any, have been lost.
The situation was rectified beginning in 1808, when the church began raising funds to repair its meeting-house. In 1811 the Ecclesiastical Society again had a settled minister, Rev. Timothy Tuttle, who served as pastor for fifty-three years. It was during his pastorate that the old meeting-house was taken down and the current church building was constructed in 1843.