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.
The John Wesley Pentecostal Church was founded in Manchester in 1897. In the fall of 1907 (“Holiness Meeting in Manchester; In Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene,” Hartford Courant, April 10, 1908) the church became part of the Church of the Nazarene, a national evangelical denomination that formed in 1907-1908 through a series of mergers between various holiness churches and denominations, with the western-based Church of the Nazarene merging with the eastern-based Association of Pentecostal Churches of America. In 1958, the Manchester Church of the Nazarene moved from their original 1898 church at 466 Main Street to a new church at 236 Main Street. It was the culmination of a five-year building plan that included construction of a youth center (1954) and a parsonage (1957). The church’s pastor, Clarence E. Winslow, designed the buildings and prepared landscaping plans, personally clearing the land with the help of volunteers. Groundbreaking for the church occurred in the summer of 1957 and the following April (“Steeplejack Chore Planned by Pastor,” Hartford Courant, April 21, 1958) Rev. Winslow was lifted 90 feet by a giant crane to place a cross on the newly raised steeple. Rev. Winslow later moved to Florida where, in the 1970s, he led supporters of Creationism against the teaching of Evolution in Florida schools.
The Church of the Nazarene opened the Cornerstone Christian School in 1981. A new church building was erected at 218 Main Street in 1989, with Rev. Phillip Chatto this time attaching the cross at the top of the steeple (“Crowning touch installed at Manchester church,” by Randy Burgess, Hartford Courant, March 29, 1989). The previous church, now called the McLain Building, became part of the Cornerstone Christian School, housing the junior and senior high schools, and the former sanctuary was converted into a fellowship hall and gymnasium.