Tuesday, March 8, 2011

First Church (Center Church) of Hartford, Connecticut



Life is often both dignified and comical at the same time. While I would not suggest that the small church pictured here is funny, dwarfed as it is by a larger glass and steel office building, but one may smile all the same at the stubborn refusal of the outdated past to shirk away from the bold and brassy present. I would not call the modern structure “the future”, because it may not be standing in the future. The church however, I would certainly bet on.

It’s already been standing since 1807.

The First Church, or Center Church, of Hartford, Connecticut holds a long and respected place in Connecticut history. It’s first pastor was Thomas Hooker, who when trudging off into the New England Wilderness after a dispute with John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, founded Hartford on the Connecticut River in 1636.

In the past 375 years, four buildings have served the congregation. The first was a log building where the Old Statehouse stands today. The third structure, built in 1739, stood where the present church stands today. The present meeting house has stood here since 1807, (at the dedication, the congregation was treated to the first performance in Hartford of the “Hallelujah!” chorus from Handel’s Messiah.)

A church welcoming of other faiths, it allowed the first Roman Catholic Mass in Hartford to be celebrated in this building in 1813.

With a few additions and renovations in the last couple of hundred years, the meeting house has weathered a far greater test of time than the shadows thrown from taller, newer buildings.

The bell in the steeple was cast in England in 1633. It still rings out on Main Street.

For more on the First Church or Center Church of Hartford, have a look at this website.

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