Merry Christmas! Pictured above is the Salvation Army’s Bristol Worship and Service Center at 19 Stearns Street in Bristol. Much altered over the years, the building was erected in 1891 for the Swedish Lutheran Lebanon Congregational Church (later simplified to Lebanon Lutheran Church), founded in 1887. In 1963 Lebanon Lutheran merged with Bethesda Lutheran Church of Forestville to form Gloria Dei Lutheran Church. The newly formed church erected a new building on Camp Street in Forestville and the old building on Stearns Street was sold to the Salvation Army, which had previously had its headquarters on Prospect Street.
The German Lutheran Church in Seymour, later known as Immanuel Lutheran Church, was organized in 1893. A church building at 56 West Street in Seymour was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1894. In the 1970s the church’s congregation moved to a larger building on Great Hill Road in Oxford. The former church on West Street, much remodeled, is now owned by the Valley Detachment of the Marine Corps League.
The American-Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manchester was organized in 1952. Nine years later, in 1961, the congregation purchased a church at the corner of Garden and Winter Streets from Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church, a German Lutheran congregation, which had just relocated to a new building on Pitkin Street. The first German Lutheran church in Manchester was Zion Church, organized in 1890. In 1893, just months before the dedication of their new church on Cooper Street, the congregation split over the issue of church members also being members of secret fraternal organizations. Those who objected to denying church membership to members of these organizations formed the new Concordia Church. In 1896 the Concordia congregation built the church at 21 Garden Street that is now home to the American-Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The church at 1 East High Street in East Hampton was built in 1855-1856 by residents on the north side of town who wanted to separate from the East Hampton Congregational Church. As described in the History of Middlesex County (1884):
The members of the ecclesiastical society, living in the vicinity of the lake, becoming dissatisfied with the location of the meeting house, in 1855 erected an edifice of stucco work, 56 feet in length. 35 feet in width. with a spire 120 feet in height, about three-fourths of a mile north of the old meeting house. It was finished in the summer of 1856, and in September of that year 25 persons who had been dismissed from the First Church for the purpose of organizing a new church, called a council of pastors and delegates from the neighboring churches. They were constituted a Christian church under the name and title of the Union Congregational Church of East Hampton.
The new church flourished during the religious revival of the 1860s, but attendance later declined and the church closed its doors in 1880. In the 1880s, the building was used by various town groups for meetings and entertainments. Around 1890, Swedish immigrants, who had been working at the Portland brownstone quarries, began settling in East Hampton. In 1898 they purchased the former Union Congregational Church, which was rededicated as the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The church is mentioned in an article entitled “The Town of Chatham,” (Chatham was renamed East Hampton in 1915) that appeared in The Connecticut Magazine, Vol. V, No. 6, June, 1899:
The Lutherans of Swedish descent having become quite numerous in this place have for some time held services in private houses. The service is conducted by Rev. L. P. Ahlquist of Portland, one of the foremost of the Swedish Lutheran ministers in the United States. The Lutheran communicants of East Hampton have recently purchased the edifice which was once used by the Union Congregational Church, at the corner of Main and High Streets, renovated it, and dedicated it as the place of their worship, Sunday, May 14, 1899, with impressive services. These recent comers from the northern part of Europe are like the last preceding mentioned [Irish Catholics], giving the native-born citizens good examples in the neat appearance of their church and its surroundings.
The Bethlehem Evangelical Lutheran Church‘s appearance has been altered over the years. The rear parish hall was built in 1957. The church’s exterior fieldstone walls were refinished in 1978 to resemble sandstone blocks. The original steeple was removed in 1888 and replaced. The current steeple was erected within the last 30 years.
Dwight E. Potter (1840-1911) was a carpenter and builder based in Willimantic. As head carpenter for the Willimantic Linen Company, he designed and constructed mill buildings, an office building and worker housing and was superintendent of all outside work. He also helped to build the Loomer Opera House on Main Street and ran a woodworking shop that produced interior and exterior architectural millwork for Willimantic’s Victorian-era houses. Potter was chief of Willimantic’s fire department from 1873 to 1880. In 1881, Potter and his first wife, Mary Ann Hazen, moved into a house he had designed and erected at 76 Windham Road. The house is now home to the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church.
St. Paul Lutheran Church in Terryville in the Town of Plymouth was formally organized on January 13, 1892. The church, located at 134 Main Street, was built in nine months in 1902. A parsonage was erected in 1907 and the dedication of the newly renovated sanctuary was held on June 9, 1912.
Grace Lutheran Church, at 46 Woodland Street in Hartford, is the descendant of three Lutheran churches that once existed in the city. One was the German Lutheran Church of the Reformation, which was founded in 1880. It was first located on Market Street in the former St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, later to become St. Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church. The German Lutheran Church moved to a new building on Charter Oak Avenue in 1898. Another Lutheran church founded by German immigrants was the German Evangelical Lutheran Trinity Church, established in 1894, which had its church building at the corner of Russ and Babcock Streets. In 1916, these two churches, both founded by German immigrants, merged, retaining the name of Trinity Lutheran Church. In 1906, St. Paul’s English Lutheran Church was established. For a time it used the German Lutheran Church on Charter Oak Avenue, but soon moved to its own church building at the corner of Park Street and Park Terrace. In 1943, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church also merged with Trinity Lutheran Church. The united church then took the new name of Grace Lutheran Church. Finding its church edifice at Russ and Babcock Streets to be too small for the enlarged membership, the church acquired land at the corner of Woodland and Niles Streets in 1945. Construction of a new church building was approved in 1948 and work began in 1950. The church was dedicated on January 14, 1951. It was designed by Bessell (Wesley S.) and Matz of New York.