In the center of Eastford is a Greek Revival building called the Ivy Glenn Memorial. It was built as a Methodist Church in 1847, the same year Eastford separated from Ashford to become a new town. In 1916, Eastford Methodists joined with Congregationalists to form a Federated Church and the former Methodist Church was sold to the town for $200. The building’s basement was repaired to serve as a place for town meetings. Restoration work was completed in 1934 with funds from the Civil Works Administration. The upstairs hall was now used for town meetings and the library and town offices were located in the basement. A new Town Hall was erected in 1969 and after town offices moved to the new building, the library was able to expand in the basement of the former church. This required a new renovation which was funded by a bequest in honor of Ivy Glenn made by her husband, Wilmer Glenn, a New York stockbroker who spent summers in the Phoenixville section of Eastford. The enlarged library opened in 1972. Another renovation was made after a fire in May 1979 damaged the front of the building.
Eastford is one of those towns in the state where the center of population nearly coincides with the geographical center of the township. Miss Ellen Larned, in her valuable History of Windham County, tells us that “the first inhabitant was John Perry from Marlborough, Mass.; who bought 350 acres of land on both sides of Still River and settled upon it near the site of the present Eastford Village.” The grave of this rude forefather of the hamlet may be seen, if I am not mistaken, in the old grave-yard back of the Congregational Church. From the beginning the chief settlement has gathered around this original spot. The village is favorably located, with a healthful environment, a fine outlook, and excellent water power. There are six roads which unite at the village green in front of the Methodist Church; and now that the state road is constructed the facilities for travel are all that can be desired. A fresh hope for the place can be confidently indulged in. The old-time saying of one of its people is fast coming more true than ever before: “Eastford is the biggest place of its size on earth.”
The house at 89 Tolland Green in Tolland was built c. 1790 by a member of the Howard family. Bishop Francis Asbury, who played a major part in the spread of Methodism in the United States, held a conference of Methodist ministers in the house in August 1793. As related in the Life and Labors of Francis Asbury, Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America (1896), by George G. Smith:
Methodism had come to New England to stay, and the Conference was to meet at Tolland. With a blister behind his ear for a sore throat and a poultice on his foot for rheumatism, he consented to rest a little while, but only for two days. He was again attacked by the rheumatism, and was not able to walk from his horse to the house, and had to be lifted down from the saddle and up again.
Our conference sat at Tolland. Lame as I was, I went through the business; and notwithstanding I was tired out with labour, heat, and pain, and company, I must also preach; so I submitted; and endeavoured to apply 2 Tim. ii, 24-26.
As explained in the Souvenir History of the New England Southern Conference in Three Volumes (1897)
The preaching service was held in the partially finished chapel. Bishop Asbury was present and preached on II. Timothy ii: 24-26, “The servant of the Lord must not strive,” etc. The text was peculiarly apt for the people and the time, for Dr. Williams of the Congregational Church had recently bitterly attacked the Methodist Church usages and doctrines. Dr. Williams afterwards acknowledged his mistake, and invited Methodists to hold prayer meetings at his home.
In 1794 Bishop Asbury again stayed at the house, which later became a Methodist parsonage for a time.
Clinton AME Zion Church in Ansonia was originally organized in Derby in 1874/1875. Early meetings were held in a hall over J. P. Swift’s Store, later Pucella’s Garage, at the corner of New Haven Avenue and Gilbert Street in Derby. The church affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1882 and adopted the name its pastor, Rev. J. J. Clinton, in 1888, incorporating as Clinton Memorial AME Zion Church. A new church building was erected on Derby Avenue, but the church later decided to relocate to Ansonia, which had a growing African American population. According to Ansonia assessor’s information, the new church, located at 96 Central Street, was built in 1950. The church had to be repaired after it was damaged in the flood of 1956 (see “$5,800 Spells Restored Hopes For Flood-Hit Ansonia Church,” Hartford Courant, February 4, 1956).
Camp meetings were a notable feature of religious life in nineteenth-century America and some continue in existence today. This site has already featured the Plainville Campground and Camp Bethel in Haddam. Another religious campground is the Willimantic Camp Meeting Association. It was established by Methodists who held the first meeting here on September 3, 1860. Today it is an interdenominational Evangelical Association. At its height the camp had 300 buildings, primarily cottages built by individual churches or families. A third of them were destroyed by the hurricane of 1938 and another hundred were lost to neglect over the ensuing decades. 100 cottages remain and constitute an architectural treasure. Read the rest of this entry »
Methodists in Norwich first organized in 1796. They built the city’s first Methodist Episcopal Church in the Bean Hill neighborhood in 1831-1833. As explained by Edgar F. Clark in The Methodist Episcopal Churches of Norwich, Conn. (1867):
The name of the Church Society, as appears in the minutes, was first called “Norwich;” in 1834, “Norwich North,” which appellation it has very generally retained. In local conversation, it is often called “Bean Hill,” from its locality.
The Methodist society on Bean Hill for many years held their public services in the venerable building which had served successively and alternately for a classical academy, a free school, and a Separatist conventicle. In this extemporized chapel, many of the early noted itinerants preached in their rounds. Here Lee, Asbury, and other messengers of the church, proclaimed their message. Here Maffit delivered one of the first of his flourishing effusions on this side of the water. When the eccentric Lorenzo Dow was to preach, the bounds were too narrow, and the audience assembled in the open air, upon the hill, under the great elm.
The present Methodist church on the hill was erected in 1833.
The church was altered in 1879 (the current pediments above the pair of blue doors date to that alteration). The congregation moved out of the building in the twentieth century (c. 1960) and it was then unsympathetically remodeled as a furniture store and is now a photography studio.
Hartford’s Swedish Emanuel Methodist Church was organized in 1896. The congregation worshiped in a room in the Boardman Building on Asylum Street before moving to a church building at the corner of Hungerford and Grand Streets in 1899. In 1921 the church dedicated its second building at the corner of Boulevard and Lockwood Terrace in West Hartford. Originally services were conducted only in Swedish, but in 1941 the Eastern Swedish Conference was dissolved and the church affiliated with the East New York Conference of the Methodist Church, discontinuing the use of Swedish. In 1957 the church acquired property at 1358 New Britain Avenue and soon began construction of what is now the Westb Hartford United Methodist Church. That same year the old church on Boulevard was sold and became the Boulevard Baptist Church. Today the building is home to Angels On Assignment Christian Church and Jesus the Cornerstone Pentecostal Church of Hartford.
The Kensington United Methodist Church at the corner of Church and Hotchkiss Streets in Berlin was built in 1893 and a modern education wing added in 1961. The church was first organized in 1858 as the Kensington Methodist Episcopal Church and met in the Berlin Town Hall until their first church was built in 1865 at the corner of Percival Avenue and Sbona Road.