Wilton, New Hampshire’s original land grant included 240 acres for a church and stipulated that a building must be erected by 1752. From this, settlers built a log church. For the first ten years traveling preachers supplied the pulpit. In 1763, Rev. Jonathan Livermore became the first settled minister. In April 1773, the town voted to provide six barrels of rum, a barrel of brown sugar, half a box of lemons and two loaves of loaf sugar for framing and raising a new meetinghouse. In 1859, a fire destroyed the Revolutionary-era church/meetinghouse, and members immediately began the construction of a new, modern building. The present building blends Greek and Gothic revival styles in a later, vernacular form.
In the 1920s Italian-speaking residents in Everett, Massachusetts appealed to Archbishop of Boston, William O’Connell for an Italian parish. Everett had seen a large influx of Italian immigrants who settled in town and the surrounding communities for work. The Archdiocese saw the demand, and rented the former Broadway Theater to be used as a church for the short term. In 1951, land was acquired a few blocks away for a new church, school and rectory. The church was designed to resemble historic Romanesque-style churches seen in Italy, with the school and renovated rectory following the Modern tradition. The brick and limestone church appears to have been built more in the historical tradition, with hand-carved stone trim and a beautiful rose window. It’s amazing that this church was built in the 1950s!
The Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Everett, Massachusetts, is an imposing Gothic Revival building, that shows how the church spared no expense to build imposing and awe-inspiring edifices all over New England. Constructed of red brick with Longmeadow brownstone trim, the church was designed by preeminent Catholic Church architect Patrick W. Ford and the cornerstone was laid in 1896. Ford was born in Ireland and in 1872, he moved to Boston and opened his own practice. He was widely recognized as an authority on church architecture and his practice focused primarily on designing churches and institutional buildings for the Roman Catholic Church in New England. Ford died suddenly at age 52 in August 1900. Due to a lack of funds, the church was not completed until 1908, so Ford did not see this church completed in his lifetime. The work was completed by architects Reid & McAlpine and is stunning with its square corner tower topped by a pyramidal spire with smaller pinnacles marking the corners of the tower. The projecting entry porch has three, pointed arch openings and is topped by crenellation. The congregation appears pretty active to this day.
The oldest surviving church in Everett, Massachusetts is this one, the First Congregational Church, built in 1852 when the city was still a part of Malden. As in many other communities, this church was formed when the surrounding area of South Malden had grown and had the means to support its own religious society. Before this, residents had to travel to Malden Center for services. In 1848, it was voted to establish the church calling it the Winthrop Congregational Church, as at the time, it was thought that when South Malden would split away, the new town would be named “Winthrop”. When the town finally split in 1870, another town had already taken that name. Originally, the Italianate-style building was sheathed in wood clapboards and outlined by pilasters, both of which were covered or removed for the installation of aluminum siding, very common in the city after WWII. Remaining hallmarks of the Italianate style include the paired cornice brackets and the round-headed windows. The tower was originally capped by a taller steeple above an open octagonal arcaded belfry, but was replaced by the present spire in 1911. The church was possibly an early design by architect Thomas Silloway. Today, the church is occupied by Universal Church USA, a congregation that originated in Brazil, showing how the local community and demographics have shifted in Everett from 150 years ago.
When the village of Newfane, Vermont moved down the hill to the flat of town, new buildings were constructed for county and religious uses almost immediately. The local Baptists, Congregationalists, and Universalists together pooled their funds together to erect this church building, which became known as Union Hall as they organized together to construct it. The design follows Gothic Revival principles with the lancet windows and crenelated tower cresting. The design features were later expanded into the larger Congregational church constructed years later when that group built their own church on a nearby site (featured in the last post). The “Union” did not last long as all the congregations built new structures. This building was vacant for years and was later converted to a Grange Hall and town meetings were held in the structure.
The town of Newfane, Vermont was chartered on June 19, 1753, by Governor Benning Wentworth, who named it Fane after John Fane, the 7th Earl of Westmoreland. But hostilities during the French and Indian War prevented its settlement, and because a first town meeting was not held within the required five years, the charter was annulled. From this, Wentworth issued an entirely new charter in 1761, as New Fane. The town was eventually settled in 1766 from families that moved there from Worcester County, Massachusetts. Newfane became the shire town of the county before 1812 and county buildings were constructed. The village’s location up the hill was not ideal and was difficult to access in the winter, so many new buildings were constructed on the flat of town. The village has retained its rural character, but packs a punch in terms of architecture, especially for a town of under 2,000 people. One of the landmarks in town is the Newfane Congregational Church, constructed in 1839 in the Gothic Revival style. The large lancet (pointed arch) windows with corresponding shutters and spire are eye-catching.
Brookline, Vermont is home to just 540 people but has one of the most beautiful brick churches in the state! The Brookline Baptist Church sits along a quiet road in town and is an excellent example of vernacular Gothic Revival architecture in the Vermont. Brookline’s first organized church congregation were Baptists, who established a formal organization in 1785 out of local homes and barns. By 1836, enough funds were gathered to erect a church, but of brick, a more substantial building material than traditional wood-frame buildings. The church remained active throughout the nineteenth century, and the vestry addition was constructed off the rear in 1895 to provide space for community gatherings and meals. Dwindling membership led the church to become mostly used for weddings, funerals, graduation ceremonies, and craft fairs by the second half of the 20th century. The Town of Brookline presently owns the significant structure, and while preserved, it does not appear to get much use.
When Ridgefield, Connecticut was settled in 1708 by Europeans, there was only one Episcopal Church in the state, and the general assembly allowed dissenters their own churches so long as they continued to pay taxes to support the Congregational Church. Ridgefield’s first Episcopal church, St. Stephen’s was built in 1740 on land granted by the Proprietors who founded the town and laid out lots along the towns new Main Street. In 1776, St. Stephen’s minister, Epenetus Townsend, a Tory (loyal to the British), was ordered to leave town with his wife and five children when the Revolution picked up steam. He was appointed chaplain to a British regiment and in 1779, the battalion was ordered to Nova Scotia. En route by vessel, a severe storm arose and all passengers were lost. The church was taken over by the commissary department of the American Army. During the Battle of Ridgefield, British troops set it on fire as a statement to the townspeople. The church was replaced two more times until 1914 when the present building was constructed. The Colonial Revival church is absolutely stunning and built from plans by (unknown to me) architect Walter Kerr Rainsford. The rubblestone church is one of the most pleasing designs I have seen in Connecticut!
The First Congregational Church was first established in Ridgefield, Connecticut just four years after the establishment of the town. Civic leaders in October 1712 successfully petitioned the Connecticut General Assembly for permission to levy a tax for “the settling and maintaining of the ministry in the said Town of Ridgefield.” Rev. Thomas Hauley, the first minister, also served as town clerk and school teacher. The first meeting house, on the town green, opened for worship in 1726. Plans for a new meeting house were drawn up in 1771 to fit a growing population, but construction was not complete until 1800. The second church was built in a more traditional style with a steeple. With a shift in the towns demographic from rural homeowners to ritzy exurb to New York City, a more suitable church was required by the end of the 19th century. Josiah Cleaveland Cady, one of the many great New York architects at the time was hired to design a new church suitable for the wealthy New Yorkers who summered in town to consider a neighbor, and he did not disappoint! The building blends many styles from Queen Anne, to Victorian Gothic, to Romanesque Revival in a way that isn’t clunky as in some other versions.
Located just a block of Main Street in Ridgefield, Connecticut, St. Mary’s Catholic Church stands out as a rare example of Victorian Gothic architecture in a village full of Colonial (and Revival) and mid-19th century buildings. The first known Catholic to arrive in town was James Brophy, who’s family settled in Ridgefield in 1848. While growth of a local Catholic church in Ridgefield was slowly being established, the character of the town was changing by the second half of the 19th century, with wealthy New Yorkers building homes for vacationing in the summers. From this, many Irish Catholic immigrants were hired to work on the new estates. The first permanent Catholic church in town was built in 1867 as a modest wood frame church. As the congregation grew, a new church edifice was needed, and after a capital campaign, funds were gathered to erect a new church. Connecticut architect Joseph A. Jackson (who specialized in ecclesiastical design), was hired to furnish plans for the new church. The building exhibits eclectic architectural styles. Gothic design is seen in the pointed or lancet windows, arches and cast iron finials. The Queen Anne style is reflected in the use of textured and varied building materials, such as brick, brownstone, and shingles. And St. Mary’s most unique feature, its unusual steeple with its four turreted abutments and conical roof worked in shingles, is representative of the Shingle style.