Thursday Doors–First Church in Windsor

First Church in Windsor
First Church in Windsor

One of the first people I met after moving to Connecticut was my best friend John. One of the first places he took me was a local hot dog stand called Bart’s for a dinner of hot dogs and burgers. I was a lot younger then, so plurals are appropriate. From the counter at Bart’s, you can look north across the Farmington River and see the profile of The First Church in Windsor. The fact that it is across the river figures prominently in the church’s history. At one point, due to the frequent flooding of that river, the settlers actually built a second church, to serve the community living south of the river.

John was born and raised in Windsor, which claims to be Connecticut’s first town. Wethersfield also claims that title. Numerically, things fall in Windsor’s favor. The Plymouth Trading Company in Massachusetts established a settlement in Windsor in 1633. Wethersfield was formed in 1634. Pretty simple huh? Well, Wethersfield adds a snarky little caveat to their claim:

“…depending on one’s interpretation of when a remote settlement qualifies as a town

I’m going with Windsor. Congregations and towns were pretty much the same thing in the 1630s. By 1635, they had built a permanent Meeting House. In 2005, the church in Windsor celebrated its 375th anniversary.

There aren’t many things in this country that date back beyond the early 1600s, because the Native American population lived closer to the land, leaving fewer artifacts. They also had some difficulty keeping records as the European settlers forcibly moved them from place to place.

The Church (not the current building) is the oldest Congregational church in Connecticut and the fourth oldest Congregational Church in the world. Its history is well documented on the church’s website and in the records of the Windsor Historical Society. The current church building, which was the fourth meetinghouse to serve the congregation was completed in 1794.

According to the history on the church’s website, this congregation was associated with one other noteworthy “first” in America. They were instrumental in hanging the first witch in America.

375 years is a long time and I won’t dwell on the fact that the congregation was associated with that incident. I am not personally familiar with this church, but in reading the history that is available, I would rather focus on the fact that the church has long been known for its community outreach and service to the people in the surrounding area, including non-residents who happen to have found themselves in Windsor and in need of support.

The church established a Family Service Agency in the 1940s to help migrant tobacco workers and young people employed in the textile industry. They also sponsored a refugee family from East Germany after the end of World War II. In the 1960s, First Church created offices and programs to help wrestle with the growing number of social problems and to support the Civil Rights Movement. According to the history published on the church’s website:

In 1963 the First Church Council passed a resolution stating that membership in First Church was open to all without restrictions of race or ethnic origin.”

If you lived through the 60s, you understand the significance of that small bit of history.

Map of recently featured doors
Recently featured doors

In case you’re wondering about First Church in relation to the other Windsor Doors I’ve featured, Elm Grove Cemetery is about three miles to the northwest, and Tunxis Grill lies about a mile beyond that. Both are also alongside the Farmington River. The tobacco barns are in the same area, but on the north side of the river. First Church is about a mile and a half from the Connecticut River (if you floated down the Farmington River). If you headed north along the Connecticut River, you would run into Denslow house after a few miles.

Since Windsor is such a historic town in Connecticut, and since I drive through it twice each day, there will likely be many Thursdays that feature a Windsor door.

This post is part of Norm Frampton’s wonderfully entertaining Thursday Doors series. Please consider snapping a door photo and joining us on any given Thursday

58 thoughts on “Thursday Doors–First Church in Windsor

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  1. I love this historically rich building and the faith within its walls would surely be amazing, Dan. If the stories of all churches don’t have a few skeletons in their closets, I would be surprised. Awesome arched door and the sides are interesting, too. I liked your friend’s story, too. Smiles, Robin
    (My September post took too much time, along with Mom in hospital and back to work by Wednesday. No doors post but I will work on one for next week, Dan. . .)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Robin. Churches this old have served though so many changes that, you’re right, there have yo be skeletons. I only mentioned it because it was the first abc because they don’t hide it. I do like more their outreach and sense of community.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dan, your reasons for liking your church due to their warm welcomes and outreach are indeed meaningful.
        I admire my own church I visit from time to time (still a member and raised my 3 kids there), because they are involved in Habitat for humanity, have a twice monthly, open to all, soup kitchen and seem genuinely kind towards the OWU college youth who visit. I think outreach is so important.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. There’s s lot of history to see here in New England. I have so many more doors tagged for photos and research, just in Windsor alone. I love this series because the doors (for me) are an entrance to the stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Another great set of doors! Churches are awesome for doors. The doors on the outbuilding appeal to me as well, with the shape and the hardware.
    Windsor would have my vote as the oldest, too. I mean, do dates LIE?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I really like the outbuilding too. I think if I knew more about it, I might have featured those doors. In any case, I had to include them. As for the first town thing, if you have to resort to “well you were there but you weren’t really a town…” stuff, you belong in 2nd grade, not town government.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot of “witches” were widows without make children. The lack of a son meant that the woman could inherit her husband’s property. A lot of those women ended up being witches. I’m not sure who they are today. Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Like

  3. Thank you for the map 😉. It really does help me to ‘place’ and adds depth to your stories (for me, the deep diver!). These small churches were such an integral part of community life, indeed, religion a primary reason for crossing the ocean. They are also anchors to earlier, slower pace if life, which I feel when passing them. Thanks for such a full, informative read and wonderful variety of relevant photos. (Plus the little skirmish about who gets settlement bragging rights. Humans ‘one-upping’ in rare form.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sammy. I’m a history but do I always like to dig a little deeper. I wasn’t sure if the map would help but I just realized how many doors I’ve featured from such a small area. The bragging rights was a big deal on the 350th anniversary of each town.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A few comments. :) Firstly I laughed when you used the word plural referring to your younger years. Secondly that door is amazing in that it still exists. Thirdly, I know why it is painted red because of all the bloodshed this church (?) spilled towards women. That makes me shiver inside, for real. On a brighter note, I really enjoyed another one of your door series. Even though I plan on spending a lot of time with my cats today who require my attention, my curiosity got the better of me (I believe I am turning into a cat!) and so I am here. LOL Great post, Dan!!!! <3

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Sadly, it has not, Dan. Yet days like I had yesterday, being accepted for ME as a woman EQUALLY among a large number of men, made me feel SO good. There is hope. When I read about how some women are treated, my stomach just rolls over. Men (some) do not treat women kindly at all. Let’s hope here too that with the example of those of us who Walk in Love, will make a difference. :) <3

        Liked by 2 people

  5. My family is from Monson Mass – not that far away from Windsor as I remember. They have a large Congregational Church as well. Lost part of its steeple in the tornado a few years back.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A wonderful history lesson Dan – just saw your comment to Judy – you’re right, participating in this doors challenge is making me discover all kinds of places and history about my region I had no idea of before!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. You know, I’m going to be perfectly honest and admit that I’m not crazy about the church doors, Dan. I can appreciate their aesthetic and they DO suit the church, but I can’t say I personally “like” the look of them. I do, however, very much like the garage doors, and also the wonderful doors of the Parish House too. And overall, that is a very impressive looking church, I must say! A wonderful piece of architecture you’ve highlighted here.

    That last photo is especially nice with the warm-toned lighting. As usual, you were either up really early, or out sorta late. Hmm, for this one I’m leaning towards evening light…?

    Like

    1. Early light on a stormy day. The garage doors are clearly the big hit on this post. I should have gone with my gut and featured them. Almost all of my photos are early. I leave for work at 6:00 am :(

      Thanks Wendy.

      Like

        1. It’s by choice. I need to be at work at 7:30 but if I shoot for that, I have to leave by 6:45 due to traffic. If I leave at 6:00, it’s a 20 minute ride. That’s why you get likes and comments early from me :)

          Liked by 1 person

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