Welcome to Thursday Doors, a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favorite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in on the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments below, anytime between 12:01 am Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American eastern time).
Waterbury, named for the abundant waterways in and around the city was an early industrial stronghold in Connecticut. In keeping with the tradition of most towns in New England, some of the first structures built in the city were churches. Three churches were visible as I strolled around the downtown Green last month. I took some pictures, and I found additional photos in the National Registry of Historic Buildings (NBHB) and other sources, including a fourth church that I didn’t see in person.
While each church has enough interesting elements in its history to fill books (several have been written) I am going to go light on the history here (was that a sigh of relief I heard) since I am combining photos of multiple churches.
Basilica of the Immaculate Conception – Waterbury Catholics began worship in the early 1800s in various residences as visiting priests from New Haven traveled there to conduct services. St. Mary’s School, one of the buildings I featured last week was one of the early parishes in Waterbury. The Church of the Immaculate Conception was the first church in America to bear that name after the Immaculate Conception decree was promulgated in December 1854.
They broke ground for the current church in 1924 and it was dedicated May 20, 1928. The Italian Renaissance design is based on the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. On February 9, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI bestowed the title of Minor Basilica on the church.
On a personal note, I attended several daytime masses in this church while working in Waterbury in the late 1980s. The interior is beautiful.
St. John’s Episcopal Church – From the church’s website,
St. John’s traces its roots to the year 1732, when a group of Anglican churchmen under the auspices of the Venerable Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts established St. James Parish in Waterbury. The first church building was erected in 1743 at the corner of West Main and Willow Streets. The parish outgrew this small building by the turn of the century. The second church was built and consecrated as St. John’s Church on November 1, 1797. It was located on the Green where the Soldiers’ Monument now stands. St. John’s third church was erected on the current site in 1848 and was totally destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve, 1868. Services were held in a temporary building for over four years.
The fourth and present church was consecrated on June 24, 1873. Designed by architect Henry Dudley of New York, this neo-gothic structure was built on the foundations of the burned building.
The First Congregational Church – This is the most curious of the three buildings I encountered. It is the oldest church in Waterbury, dating back to a meeting-house on the green in 1691. After outgrowing that building, a new church was built. A third church was built in 1795 and a fourth one around 1840.
The current church is the result of the merger of congregations in the Waterbury area. What strikes me as curious about the church is the modern construction. I wasn’t able to find much information about the design. Perhaps they were trying to avoid the cost of maintaining a traditional church with its columns and steeple. Perhaps it was just a sign of the times.
In any case, I hope you enjoy the current and historic pictures of these beautiful houses of worship.
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