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 »
A Methodist group in East Norwalk began to hold prayer meetings and Sunday school classes in individual homes in the winter of 1870-1871. The basement of the home of James L’Hommedieu was soon set up as a regular place of worship. The growing congregation soon adapted an old railroad workmen’s shanty, which was being used by the L’Hommedieu brothers as a carpenter shop, as a new house of worship. Eventually a new church building was completed in 1872 on the corner of Rowan Street and East Avenue. The church was Norwalk’s fourth Methodist church, following those in South Norwalk, Central Norwalk and Rowayton. Planning for a new and larger church began in 1889. The old church was moved across the street and on its former site the cornerstone for the present East Avenue United Methodist Church was lain in 1890. The new church was dedicated on March 1, 1891.
Jesse Lee, the minister who established Methodism in New England, preached his first sermon in New England in June of 1789 in the center of Norwalk. The town’s first Methodist church was built in South Norwalk in 1816. By 1858, the congregation had grown so large that it divided. Planning for a new church, which is now called the Norwalk United Methodist Church, began at a meeting on April 25, 1858 at “Phoenix Hall,” which was then located at the Norwalk River Bridge on Wall Street. Work on the church edifice at 724 West Avenue started in 1859 and the building was dedicated on December 6, 1860. An Italianate structure, it was designed by architect Tappan Reeve of Brooklyn, New York. Ornamentation, removed from the church’s towers in the wake of storm damage in the 1920s, has more recently been replicated and the church repainted in its original colors.
On December 21, 1866, the Middlefield Methodist Church was dedicated in commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of Methodism. The Middlefield Congregational Church, built on the town green in 1842, stood across the road. By the turn of the century, the number of Congregationalists had decreased. In 1921 the Congregational and Methodist churches became federated and the united congregation rotated services between the two churches each month. After almost a decade this practice was deemed too expensive, so services were afterwards held only at the Methodist Church, the older Congregational edifice being considered unsafe. It was eventually torn down in 1942. Additions have been made over the years to the current Federated Church building, which is located at 402 Main Street.