The Hockanum Methodist Episcopal Church, later the Hockanum United Methodist Church, was started in the early 1820s in the community of Hockanum in the south part of East Hartford. It was one of the first churches founded after the new Connecticut constitution of 1818 guaranteed the separation of church and state. Their original church building on South Main Street was built in 1838 and was remodeled in 1883-1884. A kitchen wing was added in 1911. Rev. Benjamin C. Phelps, who was a minister at the Hockanum Methodist Church, built the octagon house on Naubuc Avenue in East Hartford in 1852. After the neighborhood grew rapidly during World War II, plans were made to move the old church to a new site, just 50 feet to the south, where it would form part of a new and larger structure. Before being moved, in October 1951, the old building was raised to create room at the new site for a basement hall. Completed early the following year, the new church consisted of the old sanctuary, remodeled and lengthened, with a new front entrance and a new education wing at the rear. The facade of the new church was 20 feet further from Main Street than its predecessor, allowing space for a front lawn. In 2007 the church (address 178 Main Street) was sold to La Iglesia de Dios Evangelica El Refugio.
The Bolton United Methodist Church is located at 1041 Boston Turnpike in the Quarryville section of Bolton. The church’s history is described in A Historical Sketch of Bolton, Connecticut (1920), by Samuel Morgan Alvord:
The Methodist Church began its work at an early date in Bolton with the first camp meeting ever held in a New England town. The noted itinerant preacher Lorenzo Dow was the leader and great crowds were attracted to his meetings which were held May 30 to June 3, 1805, near the Andover town line directly east of the South District School house. Rev. Mr. [George] Colton [of the Bolton Congregational Church] was deeply offended at this encroachment upon his rights. Camp meetings were held later near camp meeting spring on the South Manchester road.
The first Methodist Church was built at Ouarryville in 1834 near the present edifice. This building was sold to the Universalists in 1851 and moved some distance west and a new church was built the following year. Joseph Ireson was the first pastor in 1823.
A brief history of the “M.E. Church, Quarryville, Connecticut,” by Edgar A. Brownell appears in the Souvenir History of the New England Southern Conference in Three Volumes (1897). As Brownell describes:
Methodist meetings were first held in 1823, at the house of Isaac Keeney, and in pleasant weather were held under the shade of trees in the vicinity of what is known as Quarryville, sometimes under a large elm tree, near the late Isaac Keeney’s residence.
The first meeting-house was built in 1834, and stood near the site of the present one. and was sold to the Universalist Societv in 1851-2, and removed about eighty rods west. The present meeting-house was built in 1852, and cost between $3,000 and $4,000, and has never been without a minister and a fair congregation.
Some years since the Rev. James S. Thomas, then stationed here, thought the society needed a church bell and a barn. He procured the same, and then set at work to pay for them. During his pastorate here special services were held and a great revival took place, “and the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” many of whom are at present members in the church.
The First Methodist Society in Bridgeport was organized in 1817 and the first church building was opened in 1823. After this wood structure burned down in 1849 it was replaced by a brick one in 1850. After it was deemed unfit for continuing occupancy in the 1920s, a new edifice was built on Golden Hill, overlooking downtown Bridgeport. The new First Methodist Church and Parish House (333-47 Golden Hill Street/210 Elm Street) was constructed as a single structure in 1928-1929 (the church in the Gothic Revival style and the parish house in the Tudor Revival style) to plans by the architectural consortium of Southey, Allen, and Collens. In 1970, several other Methodist Churches merged with First Methodist Church and the church’s name was changed to Golden Hill United Methodist Church.
Published in 1881, the History of Fairfield County, Connecticut, compiled by D. Hamilton Hurd, describes the early history of the Westport Methodist Episcopal Church:
The construction of the present church was commenced in the year 1851. Rev. Z. Davenport, now living at Saugatuck, Conn., was at that time the preacher in charge. Services were held in the old Universalist church for about two years, and until the Methodist Episcopal Church was completed.
[. . .] The original members were mostly persons who had in former years belonged to the same denomination and had worshiped at a church about two miles north of Westport village, at Poplar Plains.
The first Methodist sermon preached within the limits of this town was at Poplar Plain, in 1790, by Jesse Lee, in a house standing a few rods west of the now old church. Some few years after this regular preaching services were held in a ballroom of a tavern near by, and until the meeting house was built, about the year 1817, slabs upon legs being used for about forty years before the room was regularly seated. The old church is still standing, and is occasionally used upon some funeral occasion, the members having mostly died, the others having joined with some other Methoilist society.
Construction of a new church, located at 45 Church Lane, was begun in 1907. The church was known by the 1950s as the Community Methodist Church. In 1966 the church was sold to the neighboring Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, which uses it as the Christ & Holy Trinity Church Seabury Center and Preschool.
The first Methodist Church in Rowayton in Norwalk was formed in 1839 and originally met in a one room building until a new church edifice was built on the site in 1867 and dedicated in 1868. When first built the church was a white clapboard, wood frame structure. It was remodeled to its present form in 1907. The church is located at 5 Pennoyer Street, just off Rowayton Avenue. The street was named for Elias Pennoyer, who had donated the land for the church.
The building at 130 Main Street in Wethersfield was built as a Methodist church and is today a synagogue. The first Methodist sermon in Wethersfield was preached in 1790 by Jesse Lee in the North Brick School House, now the site of Standish Park. Wethersfield was visited by itinerant Methodist preachers until a circuit preacher for Wethersfield, Newington, New Britain, and Kensington was appointed in 1821. Early services were held at Academy Hall until the Methodist Episcopal Church was built at 130 Main Street in 1824. The church was moved 26 feet onto a new stone foundation in 1882. A fire in 1941 destroyed the church’s original Sunday school addition of 1913 and damaged the sanctuary. The church was repaired and a new Sunday school addition, twice as large, was constructed. The church soon outgrew its 1824 building and in 1959 moved to a new church at 150 Prospect Street.
The Jewish Community Group of Wethersfield was formed in 1954. The group purchased the former Methodist Church on Main Street in 1960 and adopted the name Temple Beth Torah. The building was converted to become a synagogue and the new Temple’s Day of Dedication was celebrated on May 28, 1961. Work began in 1964 to give the Temple a new facade. The former church’s steeple was removed and a new entrance in the colonial revival style was added.
Methodism first came to Norwalk in the 1780s. The first Methodist church building in town was constructed in South Norwalk in 1816. A new church was built in 1843 and enlarged thirteen years later. Two years later, the congregation divided with the formation of a new Methodist Church in Central Norwalk. In 1898 the congregation of Norwalk’s First United Methodist Church moved into another new church at 39 West Avenue. The cornerstone of the yellow brick and white marble building, designed by architect M. H. Hubbard of Utica, New York, was laid 11 June 1897. It was completed the following year. The church was deconsecrated on Sunday, May 25, 2008 due to declining attendance and for a time the building was on and off the commercial real estate market. Macedonia Church recently purchased the building. Read the rest of this entry »