Ebenezer Gay Manse, Suffield, Connecticut

The Ebenezer Gay Manse on North Main Street in Suffield, around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, WPA Architectural Survey Collection.

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The house in 2017:

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Ebenezer Gay was 23 years old when he was ordained as the pastor of the church in Suffield in 1742. The Hingham, Massachusetts native had recently graduated from Harvard, and he arrived in the midst of the Great Awakening, which was already sweeping across New England and had resulted in a number of revivals here in Suffield. That same year, he married Hannah Angier, and the following year they moved into this elegant, gambrel-roofed Georgian home in the center of town.

At the time, it was not uncommon for pastors to be hired directly out of college and remain in the same church for the rest of his life. Ebenezer Gay was no exception, and served here for 54 years, until his death in 1796. Towards the end of his ministry, his son, Ebenezer Gay, Jr., became the assistant pastor, and took over the full duties upon his father’s death. Like his father, the younger Ebenezer lived in this house. He also had a remarkable tenure as the pastor here, serving until his death in 1837, for a total of 95 years between father and son.

When the first photo was taken, the house was already about 200 years old, and its historical significance was well-recognized. It was owned by the Suffield School for Boys, which would become Suffield Academy. At the time, it was vacant, but would eventually be put to use as faculty housing for the school. It is still used for the same purpose, and in the early 2000s it was repaired and restored to its original appearance. Along with the other buildings in the area, it is part of the Suffield Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Second Baptist Church, Suffield, Connecticut (2)

Another view of the Second Baptist Church, taken around 1935-1942. Image courtesy of the Connecticut State Library, WPA Architectural Survey Collection.

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The church in 2017:

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The first photo was taken as part of a Works Progress Administration program to document historic buildings in Connecticut. Around 100 years old at the time, the Second Baptist Church was among those photographed in Suffield’s historic town center. As mentioned in more detail in the previous post, the congregation was established in 1805 by members of the First Baptist Church. The current building was completed in 1840, and has remained in use ever since.

The church is now nearly twice as old as it was when the first photo was taken, but its exterior has seen little change. The only significant difference is the loss of the parsonage on the extreme right, which was demolished in the 1950s to build a new wing of the church. Along with many other historic buildings in the center of Suffield, the church is a contributing property in the Suffield Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Second Baptist Church, Suffield, Connecticut (1)

The Second Baptist Church, on North Main Street in Suffield, around the early 1900s. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The church in 2017:

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In the colonial era, nearly all of the churches in New England were Congregational. At the time, Baptists were a very small minority, but they gained a foothold here in Suffield. The first Baptist church in Hartford County was established in the town in 1769, and its congregation met in a small church about three miles west of the town center. Despite the remote location, the church remained there in the Hastings Hill neighborhood, and the current church building was built in 1846.

Because of how far removed it was from the town center, though, the Second Baptist Church was formed in 1805, and in 1840 they built this building on North Main Street, right in the center of Suffield. It was designed by Suffield native Henry A. Sykes, who was the architect for a number of buildings throughout the Connecticut River Valley in the mid-19th century. The Greek Revival architecture is fairly typical for New England churches of the era, with a symmetrical front facade, a columned portico, and a multi-stage steeple above it.

The church building was completed a year after Dwight Ives became the pastor. He served here for many years, and had close ties to the Connecticut Literary Institute, located across the street. Known today as Suffield Academy, it had been founded as a Baptist school, and many of the students attended church here. During Ives’s 35 year long pastorate here, the church experienced several revivals, with a significant growth in the size of the congregation.

About a century after the first photo was taken, the Second Baptist Church is still an active congregation. There have been some changes, most notably the demolition of the parsonage to the right of the church and the construction of several additions in the 1950s. The church itself is still standing, though, along with the Ebenezer Gay Manse, barely visible in the distance on the far left of the photos. Both buildings are important landmarks in downtown Suffield, and they are part of the Suffield Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

William King House, Suffield Connecticut (2)

The William King House in Suffield, seen on February 17, 1938. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey collection.

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The house in 2015:

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Taken from a slightly different angle from the earlier photo in this post, the 1938 view here shows the house as it appeared when it was documented as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey.  Begun in 1933, the project was intended to provide work for unemployed photographers and architects during the Great Depression, in order to document some of the country’s historic properties.  These images and documents are now available online through the Library of Congress, and more photographs of the King House, along with detailed architectural drawings, can be found here.  The house hasn’t changed much in its exterior appearance in the past 77 years, and today it is used as a bed and breakfast, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

William King House, Suffield Connecticut (1)

The William King House on North Street in Suffield, around 1920. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The house in 2015:

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I have found conflicting sources on exactly when this house was built and who built it; apparently there were two William Kings who were living in Suffield at the time, one of whom was known as “Ensign” and the other as “Lieutenant.”  However, according to the book that I got the first photo from, the house was owned by Ensign William King, who was born in 1722 and built the house around 1750.  King’s first wife, Sarah Fuller, died in 1744, just seven months after their marriage, and in 1747 he married Lucy Hathaway.  They had nine children, and their son Seth inherited the property after William’s death in 1791.  It remained in the King family for two more generations, until it was sold in 1883.  Today, the historic house is one of Suffield’s many well-preserved 18th century houses.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is currently the Kingsfield Bed & Breakfast.

Posthumous Sikes House, Suffield Connecticut

The home of Posthumous Sikes, on Mapleton Avenue in Suffield, around 1920. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The house in 2015:

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The town of Suffield has an impressive collection of historic houses from the first half of the 18th century, including this one, which was built in 1743 by the curiously-named Posthumous Sikes.  The early Puritan settlers of New England would often give their children seemingly unconventional names, often preferring “Increase,” “Thankful,” and “Deliverance” to more Catholic-sounding names like Mary, James, and Peter.  In the case of “Posthumous,” it was often given to a child born after the death of his father, and for Posthumous Sikes, he was born in 1711, seven months after his father Jonathan died.  Posthumous married Rachel Adams around the same time that he built this house, and they had four children: Amos, Stephen, Shadrack, and Gideon.  Posthumous died in 1756, and his son Shadrack later owned the property.  The house appears to have remained in the Sikes family until at least the mid-1800s, and it was recognized as historic even at the time that the first photo was taken, although the sign on the tree provides the wrong date for the house.