Happy Easter! St. James’ parish in New London began with a small group of Episcopalians in 1725. Their first church was a wooden building on New London’s Parade, opened in 1732. It was destroyed by fire when New London was burned in 1781 during the Battle of Groton Heights. Samuel Seabury (1729–1796), consecrated in 1784 as the first bishop of the American Episcopal Church, served as rector of St. James from 1785 until his death in 1796. He is now buried in the current (third) St. James Church. The second church was consecrated in 1787, but by the mid-nineteenth century a larger building was needed. By that time the parish had grown significantly and included some of New London’s wealthiest and most influential families. The third St. James Church, located at the corner of Huntington and Federal Streets, was built in 1847-1850. It was designed by the famous architect Richard Upjohn, construction starting just a year after he completed Trinity Church in Manhattan. Starting in 1910, St. James’s original stained glass windows were replaced by six new memorial stained glass windows designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
An Episcopal parish was formed in Woodbury in 1740. As related in the first volume of the History of Ancient Woodbury (1854), by William Cothren: “The old town house on the ground now occupied by the carriage house of N. B. Smith, Esq., was, after the erection of the new Congregational house in 1747, occupied by the Episcopalians for stated worship until the erection of the present church edifice in 1785.” Woodbury is known as “The Birthplace of the Episcopacy in America,” because it was here, in the Glebe House (the minister’s residence, home of Rev. John Rutgers Marshall) that Samuel Seabury was elected the first Bishop of Connecticut, the first Episcopal Bishop in America. In 1785, work began on the parish‘s own church building. The exterior of the edifice was completed in 1786, but funds had been exhausted. The Glebe House was sold and the proceeds used to finish the interior of the church. The first service in St. Paul’s Church was held in November of 1787. A new steeple was added in 1812 and the church was painted inside and out. The completed St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was consecrated by Bishop Thomas Church Brownell in 1822.
The first Episcopal church to be established in the part of Derby that would become Ansonia was completed in 1746. Originally located at the site of the old graveyard on Elm Street, the parish moved to a new building on Derby Avenue around 1799. The name of the parish was changed at that time from the original Christ Church to St. James. The next move was across the river to Birmingham, another section of Derby, but several families were allowed, in 1843, to continue worship at the old Derby Avenue location under the name of Christ Church. A new parish, known as Trinity, was organized in the growing section of Derby called Ansonia 1849. Trinity Church was built the following year at the corner of Main and Tremont Streets. In 1851, Christ Church and Trinity Church merged, taking the name of Christ Parish, Ansonia. By the 1890s, the parish had grown too large for the church on Main Street. Franklin Farrel, a prominent Ansonia industrialist, made a gift of land on South Cliff Street for the construction of the current Christ Episcopal Church, which was designed by Henry M. Congdon & Sons of New York. The church was built of Ansonia granite, quarried at Potter’s Quarry, and New Jersey graystone. The cornerstone was laid in December, 1896 and the church was dedicated in January, 1900.
Another notable building along Salem Green is the Town House. This structure was originally built in Norwich in 1749 on Washington Street as an Episcopal church, which later took the name of Christ Church. A new Christ Church was dedicated on Main Street in 1791. The current Christ Episcopal Church was built back on Washington Street in 1849. By that time, the original church on the site had been moved away. In 1829, this old building had been sold to the Episcopal Society in Salem. It was moved to Salem Green circa 1831 and reconstructed. It was at this time that the building’s lancet windows and columned portico were added, resulting in an unusual mix of Gothic and Greek Revival styles. By 1840 the church had closed and the building was acquired by the Town of Salem for general meetings. Since 1969, it has been the home of the Salem Historical Society.
Episcopalians in Bristol separated from the dominant Congregational church in 1747. They built a church in 1754, located on the site of the later Thomas H. Patterson School (now Patterson Place Apartments). This early church closed during the Revolutionary War in the face of strong anti-Loyalist feeling. After the war, the dilapidated church was sold to be used as a barn (it later burned in a fire). A new Episcopal church, called Trinity Church, was built in 1834 on Maple Street. This building was sold and moved to Forestville to become the a Methodist Church. It was later destroyed in a fire. The next Trinity Church building was constructed on Main Street in 1862. It was moved around the corner to High Street, across from the Bristol Public Library, in 1889. When this church was destroyed by fire in 1945, Dudley S. Ingraham donated land on Summer Street–the site of a house that had been destroyed by fire–for a new Trinity Church, which was dedicated on Easter Day, 1949. The church’s rose window, facing Summer Street, was given by Ingraham in memory of his son, Dudley, Jr., who was killed in action during World War II. The church’s tower and parish house were added in 1954. At the start of the twenty-first century, Trinity Episcopal Church became one of the “Connecticut Six,” a group of Episcopal churches whose orthodox beliefs conflict with those of the state’s Episcopal hierarchy. Threatened with a lawsuit by the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, the congregation vacated the church building on Summer Street in 2008 and became Holy Trinity Anglican Church, affiliated with the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, a mission of the Anglican Church of Nigeria.
The church at 383 Hazard Avenue in Hazardville in Enfield was built as St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in 1863. Its erection was funded by Colonel Augustus G. Hazard, the gunpowder manufacturer who had founded Hazardville. In 1992, three Episcopal parishes, St. Mary’s Church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Thompsonville and Calvary Episcopal Church of Suffield, began cooperating as a regional ministry of parishes. In 2007, the three parishes merged to form Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, whose home is the former St. Mary’s Church.
The earliest Episcopal church building in Westbury (now Watertown) was built in 1765. Called Christ Church, it was replaced by a new church in 1794 and then by a third building, located on the street called The Green, built in 1854-1855. That church was replaced on the same site by a new edifice, which still stands today, built in 1924 and designed by Allen & Collens to resemble an English parish church. The church was expanded in 1960 with the addition of a wing for a parish hall. In 2003, Christ Church became one of the “Connecticut Six,” parishes that clashed with Connecticut Bishop Andrew D. Smith over support for the naming of V. Gene Robinson, an openly gay Episcopal priest, as New Hampshire’s bishop. In 2007, the entire congregation severed its ties with the national Episcopal Church and left its church on The Green to become New Hope Anglican Church. In 2010 the former Christ Church was purchased by the nearby Taft School and was renamed Woodward Chapel.