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West Hartford House Tour: Houses of Worship
November 14 @ 12:30 pm - 4:30 pm
$15 – $30
First Church of Christ Congregational, 12 S Main St
West Hartford, 06107
Sunday, November 14, from 12:30 – 4:30, explore the stunning architecture, history, and community impact of West Hartford’s houses of worship. The 2021 museum fall fundraiser offers a curated tour of some of the town’s most iconic houses of worship, as well as providing information about various religions practiced in West Hartford that do not have permanent locations. At each site, guests will learn about the architectural features of the building, the story of the congregation and why it was established in West Hartford, and how it has interacted with the community over time.
A total of six sites will be open on Sunday, November 14 as part of the Houses of Worship tour. While touring the sites, guests will learn more about the individual stories of each house of worship, the people who were involved, and how it has engaged the community of West Hartford. Guests will receive a commemorative program with historic images and information about each location, as well as information about the history of various religious groups that practice in West Hartford. Advance tickets are $30; $25 for museum members. Tickets will be available for purchase the day of the event for $35 at First Church, West Hartford and St. John’s Episcopal Church.
Virtual only option. The museum is creating a series of videos chronicling each location that includes present-day footage, historic imagery, interviews, and stories. With a $15 contribution, you receive exclusive early access to the videos on November 14 and a digital program replete with information about each site. The videos will not otherwise be available to the public until December 2021.
The West Hartford House Tour – Houses of Worship event would not be possible without the generosity of presenting sponsor Deb Cohen of
Coldwell Banker Realty West Hartford and gold sponsor JP Carroll Construction.
Advance ticket holders can start the tour at any location on the tour. Participating locations are:
Congregation Beth Israel, 701 Farmington Ave. is West Hartford’s first synagogue, built in 1936. The congregation dates back to 1843, and their original synagogue was built in Hartford in 1876 (today’s Charter Oak Cultural Center). The presence of Congregation Beth Israel in town paved the way to an eventual Jewish migration from Hartford to West Hartford. Today, Beth Israel is one of the largest reform temples in New England and one of the oldest in the country.
First Baptist Church, 90 N. Main St. began in 1858. In 1937, a new more spacious church building was constructed on North Main St. The original front pillars, front stone steps, bell, and corner stone of the first church were incorporated into the current building. A duplicate of the original steeple was constructed and the original weather vane placed on top.
First Church, West Hartford, 12 S. Main St. is the oldest congregation in town dating back to 1701 when it was known as the Fourth Congregational Church of Hartford. Multiple buildings have housed the congregation including the iconic “Greystone Church” that burned down in 1942. Many notable West Hartford residents have been affiliated with this church. Founding father Noah Webster, was baptized in this congregation in 1758, the same year as Lemuel Haynes, the first African-American to be ordained as a minister of a major Protestant denomination.
St. John’s Episcopal Church, 679 Farmington Ave. has a congregation that dates back to 1841, when the original church was built on Main St. in Hartford. Some of St. John’s more notable parishioners include author Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Colt, and Gideon Welles. The edifice seen today on Farmington Ave., with its main entrance facing Highland Street, was completed on June 9, 1909. Some features of the old building – notably the communion rail, bell, pulpit, and lectern – were brought from the old Hartford church.
St. Thomas the Apostle, 872 Farmington Ave. was begun as one of the town’s earliest Roman Catholic churches in 1920 by
Monsignor John F. Callahan. Parishioners built the first church – a small wooden building on the corner of Boulevard and South Quaker Lane.
Today’s church complex includes the Gothic-style church, a beautiful plaza lined with trees and plants, a rectory, a convent, and around the
corner on Dover Road, St. Thomas the Apostle School.
Quaker Meeting House, 144 S. Quaker Ln. In the late 1700s, Quakers arrived to West Hartford and established a meeting house and cemetery on today’s South Quaker Lane. However, by 1828, most of its members moved to Ohio and the site was abandoned. In the 1930s, a second Quaker movement started and the group obtained the original plot of land and built the existing meeting house in 1950. Visitors will also have the opportunity to tour the Quaker cemetery on the grounds – the final resting place of West Hartford’s early Quakers, including the Burrs, Sedgwicks, and Gilberts.
The West Hartford House Tour – Houses of Worship event is a fundraiser for the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, a not-for-profit museum. A portion of ticket sales will also be donated to participating houses of worship.