Thursday Doors – St. Patrick – St. Anthony Church

St. Patrick – St. Anthony Church

Back in April, I began an exploration of the Anne Street Historic District with some buildings along the southern end of the district, a.k.a. Pearl Street. There are many stories doors in this western edge of downtown Hartford, but today’s will all come from one building. That building is St. Patrick and St. Anthony Church, a Cathedral-style Church located at the north end of Church Street, well, the north end before Interstate 84 cuts Hartford into two land masses.

St. Patrick’s is the oldest Roman Catholic church in the state of Connecticut. Located in downtown Hartford, the church serves an urban mission. According to the website:

“as a community of faith in service to the Archdiocese of Hartford and responding to the priorities of Holy Name Province, we welcome and extend hospitality to all people, especially the alienated and the poor.”

While St. Patrick’s is the oldest Catholic church today, it wasn’t the first Catholic church in Connecticut. That was the Holy Trinity Church. Holy Trinity was founded in 1829 to serve the thousands of Irish immigrants in the Hartford area. 20 years later, Holy Trinity had grown beyond its capacity. In 1850, they began building St. Patrick’s. The history from Holy Trinity to St. Patrick’s – St. Anthony, is a complicated involving fire, flood and shifting populations.

First, Holy Trinity burned in 1853. During that fire, most of the documents containing the church’s history were lost. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last time fire played a role in the history of this church. St. Patrick’s was consumed by fire in 1875 – the parish rebuilt the church on the same site. In 1956, the church was once again gutted by fire, and once again, the parish rebuilt, this time, within the walls of the original building.

Meanwhile, over on the east side of Hartford, the Italian immigrants were establishing their own parish. In 1895, an Episcopal Church located four blocks from St. Patrick’s on Market Street would become a St. Anthony’s parish’s first home. In 1921, St. Anthony’s had built a new parish around the corner from their temporary home.

While St. Patrick’s was fighting fires, St. Anthony’s was fighting water. The church was severely damaged in a terrible flood in 1936, and again in a flood resulting from the 1938 hurricane. That hurricane was the worst one that ever struck Connecticut and, apparently occurred before they started giving those things names.

While the two strong and spirited parishes survived fire and flood, they could not survive the migration of their parishioners to the suburbs after WWII. Again, from the combined church’s website:

“In 1957, Archbishop Henry O’Brien proposed the merger of the two parishes. As St. Anthony Parish disappeared in the dust of urban renewal, its parishioners and programs moved to St. Patrick’s and on October 25, 1958, St. Patrick-St. Anthony Parish became official. It was this new infusion of parishioners and their generosity that was largely responsible for the rebuilding of the church after the disastrous 1956 fire.”

Of course, this post is part of Norm Frampton’s brilliant series – Thursday Doors. While the history of this/these churches is fascinating, the doors are amazing.

Every week, Norm gives us the opportunity to share interesting doors. If you want to play along, grab a door, head on over to Norm’s place and click the blue frog. Yes, the blue frog. But, before clicking on the tadpole, take a look at Norm’s doors. They are always worth a view. If you want to start a slideshow in this gallery, click on any image.

83 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – St. Patrick – St. Anthony Church

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    1. I do too. It’s funny, I thought this would be a simple story. Find out when the place was built and move on. Nope. This church has a complicated history. The Pearl Street post includes the doors of a Synagogue, that was also torn down in Hartford’s questionable attempt at urban renewal. It was on the same street as St. Anthony’s. In many ways, I’m guessing the city planners would rather have have the land these historic churches occupy be the places being developed today.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The front entrance is stunning. I mean, that’s just as detailed as it can be. Beautiful facade. The stonework alone is impressive in its detail. Especially noticeable in the shots with the outer halls and stairs. I’m sorry about the dumpsters, but I appreciate your thorough exploration. Great doors! :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. It’s amazing to see all the detail and work that went into the lower level. Many parishes would have built that out of cheaper material and either filled in or built up around it. It’s built like a castle. I was tempted to try to move the dumpsters, but you know Norm’s position on bail…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Gorgeous building, Dan. I thought you caught the sun shining on the windows, but I see the gold shine is part of the decoration over the door. Too bad the fire and water couldn’t have cancelled one another out.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet. Seriously, can you imagine being in the parish that was destroyed by flood and them moving to one that was gutted by fire. I think I’d have to start wondering my standing with the Almighty.

      The pictures are from two different days. I was planning to only use the front shot, the one that looks like light, but when I walked by and saw all the other doors, I knew I had to break this place out of the neighborhood.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Perseverance through so much adversity has to be admired. That front certainly has the look of a castle what with all the stonework and detail, and oh those doors are gorgeous :-)
    The bells were an interesting addition – very pretty.
    Excellent post Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norm. I’m sure you know how it goes when you think you have a simple “go get a picture of that door” task and it turns into “so many doors…” But, I love the building, so it’s a good thing. I told Joey that I was going to try to move the dumpsters, but I remembered your position on bail :-)


    1. Thanks Wendy. The funny thing is, the street where St Anthony’s church was, is now the less desirable street to be on. This area is turning into prime real estate, and it’s home to several historic buildings.


  4. Ah, there’s nothing like the sight of a beautiful old church in the middle of a modern city — a reminder of what once was and always will be. Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York — so many cities along the east coast boast churches like the ones shown here. I hope they’ll always be there, drawing us closer to what is eternal, and reminding us that some things never change. Terrific pics, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Paul. I agree that these churches should stand as an example that this country and its cites were founded for more than commerce. Hartford has several of these remarkable old churches. I didn’t know about the long and convoluted history of this parish, but it was very interesting reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That is a gorgeous church (and garden) and I think the bell tower adds a cool, modern touch to an old building. You are right…the history of the two-now-one churches is complicated and wrought with too many disasters. But I love how hope and faith were never lost and the two churches became one in order to serve the congregation and community.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Mary. Complicated, but, at least for now, it has a happy and a hopeful ending. The community outreach is more important today than ever, it seems. It’s less about how they got here, and more about what they are doing. That seems to be a good story.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Back in the old days, the first question a real estate agent would ask was, “what church do you go to?” It would tell him (always a him) what religion, ethnic group and social class you belonged to…and therefore what neighborhood you “belonged in”.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kept looking at the first church for some time, because somehow it looked different from the Gothic style churches in continental W.- Europe. My guess is I’m used to grey-ish stone, that make it look so different. Love all the rosette windows!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do like the details in and around the windows. I took a few photos that featured the windows, but I decide to leave them out, because the gallery was stuffed to the gills.


  8. Handsome all around – great red doors AND bells. I love the history of how groups established a church in their settled area so they could worship together. On the flip side, the change in demographics is as hard on a church as it is on residential areas, stores, and malls. The Catholic Church I grew up in and was married in was built in 1824 and is now permanently closed. It is like a large cemetery marker. The history is amazing but the reality of change not so much. :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is hard. They are merging a large number of churches here. I don’t know what the result will be. I worry about the church we were raised in. It has a very small congregation and it’s pretty old.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I LOVE the uniqueness of that front entrance. Obviously this was designed by someone who really appreciated doors.
    … but the dumpsters?! What were they thinking by blocking those beautiful doors behind them.
    Someone need to be seriously chastised for their door *abuse*.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The doors are beautiful and I love the fact that they spared no expense, even on the lower levels. As for the dumpsters, I think they owe us a few Hail Marys. I don’t know why they would block a door, anyway. I mean I assume it’s functional.


    1. Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed this. I like using the gallery so people who want to explore can, but if people are in a hurry they can glance at them quickly. I really liked the gates to the garden.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Audrey, I’m glad you liked this. I had driven by this church for years, but mostly across the front and you can’t see the side gardens or doors unless you’re walking by,


  10. The oldest Catholic Church in all of Connecticut is gorgeous, Dan!
    I love the red doors especially in this brick red tone or burgundy wine color. It is so rare to see bells like these golden brass (?) so clearly!
    My local Catholic Church rings them on Sunday and then every day at noon, I believe. St. Anthony’s is a wonderful and stately building.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. To add one more detail to my comments, I am not sure what you would call the design with the cross and the petals bit I am labeling it a floret. It was very prominent in this post.
    Felicia attended the Franciscan University of Dayton, (Go Dayton Flyer’s!!) The university requires every year active participation in philanthropic projects.
    Getting the college kids to go beyond partying, Felicia went to Head Start in the downtown Dayton area freshman year, served as a GED tutor at the local women’s penitentiary sophomore year and her Jr and Sr years, as a March of Dimes part of their marketing Dept. I wish all colleges would try this! :)

    Liked by 1 person

  12. As always you did a wonderful job with Thursday Doors including history and images. I liked the bell tower that adds to the entire architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

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