Camp meetings, religious revival meetings where parishioners would set up their carts and tents around a central preaching platform, were once a vital feature of frontier American Protestant Evangelicalism in the nineteenth century. Participants, freed from their daily routines, could attend the almost continuous services that often lasted several days. While Presbyterians and Baptists sponsored camp meetings, these religious gatherings came to be particularly associated with the Methodist denomination. Methodists soon introduced the camp meeting, originally a western phenomenon that flourished before the Civil War, to the east.
The New Haven District of the Methodist Church founded a campground for summer revival meetings in the west end of Plainville (320 Camp Street) in 1865. Methodist camp meetings would continue to be held there every summer until 1957. Initially tents were pitched around a central platform. Soon the Association Building was constructed, where equipment could be stored. Individual churches then began constructing 2-story cottages facing the center of the Campground, along what is known as The Circle. Nineteen of these central cottages survive today. Individual families also began to build their own cottages on the narrow avenues radiating from The Circle, replacing the tents of the campground‘s early years. Most of the cottages date from the 1880s to 1910, although a few were constructed as late as 1925. The present Auditorium building was built around 1905 in place of the original preaching platform. At one time a screened pavilion, the Auditorium is now open to the outside. The Plainville Campground Association purchased the property from the Methodists in 1957. 87 of the cottages are now private residences, the other 39 being owned by various churches. A few of the cottages have been modified for year-round use, while the rest are occupied in the summer. I have additional photos of the Campground: Read the rest of this entry »
At 77 West Town Street in Lebanon is a house built c. 1880 by Isaac Gillette. He was a delegate to the state Constitutional Convention in 1902. Pin Oak seedlings were distributed to each delegate to plant in his home town. Gillette planted his in his front yard, where the Constitution Oak (not pictured above) still grows today.
At 28 Channing Street in New London is a large house that is transitional from the Stick Style to the Queen Anne style. It also has an Eastlake-style porch and different types of siding for each floor. It was built in 1890 by the Bishop Brothers, a firm of contractors and builders. One of the partners was Henry Bishop, whose daughter Mary married Nathan A. Woodworth, who ran a paper manufacturing company. They were the house‘s first residents. The house was later (by 1901) the home of John B. Leahy, of J.B. Leahy & Company, wholesale liquor dealers at 36 Bank Street.
The house at 290 Prospect Street in Willimantic was built in 1888 for Samuel E. Amidon, a successful grocery store owner. After Amidon’s death, the house had other owners. In 1984 it was purchased by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Norwich. Called Newman Hall, it is now the Catholic Office of Campus Ministry for members of the Eastern Connecticut State University community. According to the Commemorative Biographical Record of Tolland and Windham Counties (1903):
The house of Dr. Frederick Gilnack, at 19 Elm Street in Rockville (Vernon), constructed in 1890, is a quite late example of a Second Empire house. The mansard roof had been popular some decades before, but the house’s Eastlake style ornamentation places the it stylistically in the later nineteenth century. Dr. Gilnack was born in Saxony in Germany in 1844. His family came to America when he was ten and settled in Glastonbury. He was honored by Dr. Eli P. Flint in Proceedings of the Connecticut State Medical Society (1917), who gave an account of his life:
He was graduated from the College of Physicians and Surgeons, the School of Medicine of Columbia University, New York, March 14, 1867, and only three months later, in June, he located in Rockville, Connecticut, for the practice of his profession, which he continued there successfully, for forty-five years, until failing health obliged him to give it up.
He was especially successful as an obstetrician, and the loss of sleep and other exacting requirements which that class of practice necessitates, so lowered his vitality mentally and physically that he became unable to perform the duties of his profession for fiveyears, until an attack of epidemic influenza proved quickly fatal [in 1917].
On Tolland Green is located the Old Tolland County Jail, the earliest surviving section of which dates to 1856. At one time the Jail was attached to a hotel known as the County House (first built in 1786), which could accommodate people who had business at the nearby county court. The hotel was owned by the state, but was managed under contract by a private innkeeper (who was sometimes also the jailer). The court later moved to Rockville in 1888 and the hotel was not rebuilt after it burned in 1893. Instead, it was replaced by a new County House, used primarily as a residence for the jailer and his family. The Victorian building was designed by local builder James Clough. Today, the house and attached jail serve as a museum, operated by the Tolland Historical Society.
The house at 34 First Avenue in Waterbury is a Queen Anne-style house with an octagonal turret, built around 1875. The family of Richard Tennant, an immigrant from Scotland, occupied the house from the end of the nineteenth century until 1950. According to the Commemorative Biographical Record of New Haven County, Connecticut (1902):
Richard Tennant spent his boyhood and youth on the Scottish homestead, and availed himself of the opportunities of education presented by the local schools. After attaining his majority he went to Glasgow and served three years as an apprentice to the machinist’s trade, at the Neilson Locomotive Works. Howden & Co., marine engineers, had the young man in their employ for two years, and he was then with the London-Glasgow Engineering Co. one year. By this time Mr. Tennant had become an experienced and thoroughly efficient machinist, and his services were in demand. King & Co., a celebrated engineering house, counted him among their ablest employes. Only the desire to come to this country, where many of his compatriots had already reaped a rich reward for their courage and enterprise, induced him to break away from this firm. In 1871 Mr. Tennant came to the United States, and located in Paterson, N. J., where he was in the employ of the Rogers Locomotive Works until the close of the year 1873, and in the following spring he came to Connecticut, working for three months in Ansonia, and then for a year in Seymour, with the Swan Bit Co. Mr. Tennant then returned to Ansonia and engaged with Wallace & Sons until January, 1888, in which month he came to Waterbury to take a position with the Scovill Manufacturnig Co., where he is still at work. For a year Mr. Tennant was master mechanic for the Aluminum Brass & Bronze Co., at Bridgeport, and with that exception has been with the Scovill Co. since coming to Waterbury.