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.
The First Church Congregational in Fairfield, Connecticut is the sixth church to occupy this site! The first structure was built in 1640, and the current building was constructed in 1892. The third version of the church was burned by the British in 1779, while the fourth “meeting house” took nearly 42 years to finish and was partially funded by the sales of properties which formerly belonged to Tory sympathizers. The Romanesque Revival church was designed by architect J. Cleaveland Cady, who is best known for his design of the south entrance of the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.