First Congregational Church of Woodbury (1817)

Sunday, November 29th, 2015 Posted in Churches, Federal Style, Woodbury | No Comments »

First Congregational Church of Woodbury

The founding members of First Congregational Church and Ecclesiastical Society of Woodbury journeyed from Statford to Woodbury in 1673. Their first meeting house was a simple structure built in 1681. A second replacement meeting house was built on the same site in 1747 followed by the third and current building, erected in 1817-1818. The new building was dedicated on January 13th, 1819.

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North Guilford Congregational Church (1814)

Sunday, November 22nd, 2015 Posted in Churches, Federal Style, Guilford | No Comments »

North Guilford Congregational Church

Guilford farmers began clearing land in the north part of town in 1705. As related in A History of the Plantation of Menunkatuck and of the Original Town of Guilford, Connecticut, Comprising the Present Towns of Guilford and Madison (1897) by Bernard Christian Steiner:

on December 6, 1716, the town voted to grant the petition of the “North Farmers in Guilford,” that they may have “the liberty to hire a minister for 4 months for their ease in attending the worship of God, the Town being at no charge in contributing to the same.”

In 1720 the town

granted 50 acres on Hooker’s Hill “to be disposed for the ministry forever,” and permitted the meetinghouse to be set” on the hill called the ledge, in the highway against Sam’l Bishop’s lot.”

The first meeting house on Mettinghouse Hill was built in 1723 and a separate religious society was granted by the General Assembly in 1725. The current North Guilford Congregational Church building was erected in 1812-1814. Workmen erecting the steeple during the War of 1812 observed British ships on Long Island Sound during the Battle of Stonington. Abraham Coan of Guilford was the architect/builder of the Federal-style church, which stands in a dramatic location on Meetinghouse Hill. The interior was remodeled and the Chancel was added in 1855, possibly to a design by Henry Austin. A rear addition to the church was constructed in 1957.

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First Congregational Church, Branford (1843)

Sunday, November 15th, 2015 Posted in Branford, Churches, Italianate, Romanesque Revival | No Comments »

First Congregational Church, Branford

Settlers from Wethersfield established themselves in Branford in 1644 and built a log meeting house. This was enlarged to twice its original size in 1679. As related in the second volume of J.L. Rockey’s History of New Haven County (1892), from the church’s records:

November 30th, 1699. ‘Whereas it hath been agreed upon by the town to build a new meeting house, and there being different notions respecting the form— some being for a square house and others for a long brick house with lean-to— it is agreed by the town that a lott shall be drawn to decide the matter, and it is agreed that Benj. Harrington shall draw the lott.’ The lot being drawn fell for a square meeting house. The form of the tower and turret was left to the committee. The inhabitants agreed to work out their proportions of expense as near as they can in such work as the committee judge them capable. The committee were to deduct from wages of those who come late or are negligent. They sell the new part of the old house to help pay joiners for work on the new house. They sell the old part of the old house to Richard Wilford for teaching school. This new house stood on the common, about in front of the town hall.

Built in 1700, this meeting house was deemed inadequate by 1738, when the decision was made to erect a new one. It was completed in 1744. As described in A history of the First Church and Society of Branford, Connecticut, 1644-1919 (1919), by J. Rupert Simonds:

The steeple was not added until 1803, and the clock was placed therein in the summer of 1804. There is an interesting story concerning the erection of the steeple. It happened that, at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the newly reorganized Episcopal Church purchased some fine lumber to be used for building a steeple for their new church, but their funds proved insufficient for the carrying out of their plans, and so they were compelled to sell the timbers, which they had prepared, to the Congregational Society, and they were used in the erection of the Congregational steeple. Inasmuch as the feeling between the two churches was not very cordial at that time, this was regarded, by the Episcopalians, as a cause for much chagrin, and, by the Congregationalists, as an occasion of considerable satisfaction. [. . .]

The new meeting house was situated nearly in front of the present edifice, but faced almost in the opposite direction. It was occupied by the church for practically a century, or until the erection of the present building, in its original form, in 1843.

Simonds describes the building of the 1843 meeting house in its original form:

It was decided to have a brick house, with a porch and large fluted pillars in front, a steeple in the center, and with two aisles in the audience room. The work went steadily, tho not rapidly, forward. The old Meeting House was in the way of the builders, so it was torn down and services were held, for a time, in the Academy. In January of 1844 the slips, which had been placed in the new building instead of the old square pews, were appraised and rented. It was also decided to have an organ in the church. The basement was not finished until January 1, 1845, for it had been necessary to sell part of the Indian Neck timber to obtain sufficient funds.

On January 19, 1845, the new Meeting House was finally dedicated.

The First Congregational Church decided to enlarge the building and change the facade in 1868, as again described by Simonds:

After some little discussion, and the revision of the plans several times, it was decided to enlarge the church by removing the original facade and adding to the length of the roof sufficiently to enable the placing of thirty more pews, and replacing the old facade with a new one. This was accordingly done, and the result is the edifice in its present form. The addition at the rear of the building, comprising the chancel, was also made at this time and the walls of the auditorium were frescoed.

The building has been attributed to architect Sidney M. Stone.

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Hadlyme Congregational Church (1840)

Sunday, November 1st, 2015 Posted in Churches, East Haddam, Greek Revival | No Comments »

Hadlyme Congregational Church

As related in A Statistical Account of the County of Middlesex, in Connecticut (1819) by David Dudley Field:

The [Ecclesiastical] Society of Hadlyme was incorporated in Oct. 1742, and was thus called, because it was made partly from East-Haddam and partly from Lyme. The church was organized, with ten male members, on the 26th of June 1745, and on the 18th of the succeeding September, the Rev. Grindall Rawson, who had been minister several years at South-Hadley, Mass. was installed their pastor.

The current church, built in 1840 and located on Town Street (Route 82) in East Haddam, is the second building to be constructed on the site.

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North Stonington Congregational Church (1848)

Sunday, September 20th, 2015 Posted in Churches, Greek Revival, North Stonington | No Comments »

North Stonington Congregational Church

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.

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Bozrah Congregational Church (1843)

Sunday, August 30th, 2015 Posted in Bozrah, Churches, Greek Revival | No Comments »

Bozrah Church

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.

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Old Congregational Church, Willington (1876)

Sunday, August 16th, 2015 Posted in Churches, Gothic, Public Buildings, Willington | No Comments »

Old Congregational Church, Willington

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.

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