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Middletown's Congregationalist Roots

The city's first Congregational church was built in the North End in 1652

The English families who settled Middletown in 1650 were Congregationalist, by faith. Like the “Pilgrims” of Plymouth and the “Puritans” of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Middletown was established by Protestant worshippers who followed the ideals of John Calvin.

These Calvinists became known as Congregationalists in the New World because they believed in the absolute autonomy of each congregation.

The first order of business was to erect a house of worship, which would also serve as a town meeting place and seat of government for the community.

The first Congregational church building was erected in 1652 on Main Street in the North End, near where the bulk of the families set down roots. It was a small, wooden structure about 10-by-20 feet in size. It was replaced in 1680 with a larger house of worship, probably in the middle of Main Street, about opposite Liberty Street.  Another church replaced that one on High Street near Church Street to meet the needs of the community as it grew beyond the original settlement.

The fourth church was built on the west side of Main Street in the block between Court and College streets in 1799.  It was a wooden building designed by Lavius Filmore, a well-known church architect of his time.

It is Georgian in style, using elements borrowed from the Romans, including the decorative quoins on the corners that give it the appearance of stone. The tower has two tiers, with column supporting the octagonal belfry. Similar churches can be found in Norwich and East Haddam. I also believe the tower of this structure was sold and embellishes a church somewhere in Connecticut.

John Hall March 11, 2011 at 12:41 PM
On the right side of this picture, you can see the structure of the steeple of the 5th Meeting House, at 190 Court Street, that was under construction between 1871 and 1873. The steeple at 190 Court was removed in, we believe, 1951.
Elizabeth Warner March 11, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Hi John - I shouldn't have buried that information in the caption. So thanks for making it more available

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