South End Churches

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I created the title for this post on Tuesday (so I would have the link to share) before I completed my research. If I had completed the research, I might have gone with ‘Former Churches of Hartford’s South End’ – all three church building in today’s gallery are no longer functioning as churches. The information has been copied from web pages. The black and white photos are from the National Registry of Historic Places nomination form.

The Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford began as a synagogue for Congregation Beth Israel (CBI), one of Connecticut’s earliest Jewish communities, which had previously conducted services in homes, workplaces, and a converted church. Built in 1876, the Charter Oak temple drew design inspiration from Berlin’s New Synagogue on Oranienburgerstrasse (built 1859-66). It is the oldest synagogue building in Connecticut. During the 1930s, CBI moved to the suburbs of West Hartford and built a new synagogue there, Temple Beth Israel. No longer in use as a synagogue, the Charter Oak building has now become a cultural center.

Charter Oak Cultural Center is a vibrant multi-cultural arts center committed to doing the work of social justice through the arts.

St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. The oldest surviving Catholic church building in Hartford, the Portland brownstone Gothic Revival St. Peter’s Church, was completed in 1868. It was designed by James Murphy, who had once been an associate of Patrick Keely. The parish was established nine years earlier, in 1859, and served the city’s growing Irish-American population. The tower was added in the 1920s.

After a monthlong structural evaluation, it was determined that St. Peter, dedicated in 1859, required work totaling more than $1.05 million, including roof replacement, plaster repair, architectural decorations, priming and painting the interior of the church. The main level of the church was deemed unsafe for occupancy, said archdiocesan spokeswoman Maria Zone.

The estimated costs do not include “additional and critical repairs” to trusses in the attic that support the roof, Zone said. St. Peter does not have the money to pay for the repairs, she said.

The former South Park Methodist Episcopal Church, facing South Green in Hartford, was built in 1875. In 1886, the Boardman Chapel was added to the rear of the church, but has since been removed. In 1982, South Park Methodist Church merged with the United Methodist Church on Farmington Avenue. The 1875 South Green church was purchased by South Park Inn, Inc., which renovated the building and opened in in 1984 as an emergency homeless shelter.

I am pleased that two of these buildings have been maintained and are providing a valuable service to the Hartford community. The fate of St. Peter’s is unknown at this time.

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126 comments

  1. These are amazing pictures, Dan. It is a shame that ST Peter’s can’t be restored. I am planning a trip to Swakopmund in Namibia so will have more interesting doors pictures soon. I still have a lot to share from our January road trip.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Robbie. I’m not certain that St. Peter’s can’t be saved, but given the amount of money required, I doubt it will ever be a church again. A stunning example of why maintenance is required. I look forward to your doors, wherever they’re from.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. St Peter’s RC church looks grand. It’s a pity that it is unsafe to use and there are no funds to repair it. Letting a beautiful construction deteriorate seems such a waste. However, it is lovely that the Jewish synagogue is being used as a cultural centre. The brick walls and the door of the South Park Methodist Church building are beautiful too. Thank you for sharing the history of both buildings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • St. Peter’s is a sad story. I hope, if nothing else, that a commercial interest will purchase the building. The beautiful brownstone structure should not be lost. The other churches are still serving the community, so that’s a good thing, Thnks for dropping by.

      Like

    • Especially the doors (in the US) from the 19th century. Craftsmen from all trades brought their best talents to these buildings. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts, Darlene.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Steve. I hope St. Peter’s can be flipped into a different role. They are renovate school as apartments, Maybe they can save the church. The others seem to be in good hands. Thanks for finding time for Thursday Doors while skiing.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful buildings Dan. Grand doors, especially on St. Peter’s. The detail on all three buildings is amazing. Glad to know that two of these pieces of history have been repurposed and still serve their community today, Sadly,
    St. Peter’s won’t get a second chance all because of lack of funds.
    Ginger

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m with you, Ginger. I keep hoping someone will find a use for St. Peter’s that would justify the repairs required. I like that the others have been put to good use.

      Like

    • I imagine there was a bit of competition between the different trades. Brownstone was being quarried south of Hartford and bricks were being made about the same distance to the north. The difference was that there was a much larger market for the brownstone. Many of the famous brownstone buildings in New York, and even some in San Francisco were built with Portland, Connecticut brownstone. Bricks were almost always available locally. I love the way the brick masons added ornamentation into the walls. You see that, even in the factories in this part of Hartford.

      Loved your tour today.

      Like

      • I have such a draw to abandoned buildings. Unfortunately, most are locked and under some sort of surveillance. I have read about a lot of abandoned mental hospitals. I don’t know what it is but I think it is alot about the work that was put in back then. I always wanted to contact Zac Bagans (I think thats his name) to go on ghost hunters with him so I could visit some haunted places.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Uuu, magnificent South Park United Methodist, and St. Peter’s! I really like not just the buildings and doors but your photography too. Through the branches, perfect.

    I realise that I still have to show the non-ghost part of Celleno and its doors. And there is a really nice arch too. I will add tags to my link, but only here in your comment. Do I need to do it somewhere else too? Last week they weren’t included in your recap. My todays tags are #Celleno#Lazio#arch

    Thursday Doors 3/3/22: Celleno 2.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Such beautiful churches, Dan–all of them. Bravo to the Methodist church for sheltering the homeless. The homeless here in my town had themselves a massive site under our Interstate bridge but were booted out. Where do they go? It’s an ongoing problem that could truly be solved by not tearing down old buildings to build new ‘affordable’ houses but repurposing them like this church did. Good luck to St Pete’s. It’s a beauty.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Lois. I was confused when I found the Methodist Church on the map and it said South Park Inn. That’s the name of the shelter. I was sorry that the church had to close, but I am glad it was purchased specifically to serve the most needy in the community. It still looks very good on the South Green. Scripture says we will be judged by how we treat the least among us. More cities need to think about that. I hope you can ease into a nice weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I saw some photos of the interior of St. Peter’s, Teagan. It’s beautiful, but they aren’t photos I’d feel comfortable sharing. I can almost imagine these buildings under construction, probably for years.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Such beautiful buildings, Dan. You had some great shots. This week, I come to you from Pisa, Italy where I happened to find out the Leaning Tower of Pisa actually has a door. You learn something new everyday, and thanks to Google Earth I can go to a new a new country every day. Well, maybe not every day. This thing called life gets in the way. Or, more precisely kids, driving lessons is the new addition. I might need a few myself. I drove over a roundabout in the rain tonight. The windscreen was foggy. Oh dear. Another reminder of my humanity.
    Take care and best wishes,
    Rowena

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Jan. Churches that were built in the mid-19th century are very special when you find them. Many of them were lost to fire and rebuilt in the early part of the 20th century. They are still nice, but you can detect slightly less detail in the exteriors. I love the detail that was worked into the brick and stone. I hope you have a good weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I do hope it can be saved. The school is being made into apartments. Maybe there’s something interesting (and valuable) enough they could do with the church building to keep it standing.

      I love the woodwork in your photos.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Buildings that arise out of faith tell about the people who built them. It is wonderful that at least two of these still serve the community. How sad that that gorgeous main entrance to St. Peter’s leads to nothing.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. St. Peter’s is so beautiful! What a shame that it’s become ramshackle. Fingers crossed that it joins the other two former churches in being restored. That church that’s now an inn inevitably made me think, “A good choice, seeing as how they got all that room downstairs where the pews used to been.”

    Liked by 2 people

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