West Suffield Congregational Church, Suffield Connecticut

The West Suffield Congregational Church, at the corner of Mountain Road and North Grand 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 church in 2015:

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The West Suffield Congregational Church was established in 1740 by the Massachusetts General Court (at the time, Suffield and several other northern Connecticut towns were part of Massachusetts), and the congregation was organized three years later. The first pastor, John Graham, served for 50 years, ending his ministry in 1796, around the same time that the original building was replaced. The second building was completed in 1795, and sat on the same spot as the present-day building.

The second pastor of the church, Daniel Waldo, was perhaps the most remarkable in the long history of the congregation.  He was born in 1762 and served in the American Revolution at the age of 16.  Following his graduation from Yale, he became the pastor here, and served from 1792 until about 1810.  After leaving Suffield, he served as a missionary in Pennsylvania and New York, and was the pastor of several other New England churches before being named Chaplain of the House of Representatives in 1855, at the age of 93.  He served as chaplain for two years, but he didn’t really retire afterward; he continued preaching even beyond his 100th birthday, and he died in 1864, a little over a month before he would have turned 102.  He was among the last living veterans of the American Revolution, and was one of the few to have been photographed, seen here shortly before his death:

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The third, and current church building was built in 1840, on the foundations of the second building.  There have been several additions behind and to the left of the building, in 1879 and 1958, but the main part of the building hasn’t changed much, aside from a different paint scheme, since the first photo was taken.  The congregation is still active here after over 270 years, and they are part of the United Church of Christ denomination.

Fuller Hall, Suffield Connecticut

The North Building, on the campus of Suffield Academy, probably around 1920. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The building, now heavily renovated and renamed Fuller Hall, as seen in 2015:

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It took me a while to figure out that this is, in fact, the same building.  The North Building was built in 1873, replacing the 1845 Ladies Building that had burned the previous year.  It is located just to the right of the Memorial Building, and both of these buildings date back to when Suffield Academy was known as the Connecticut Literary Institute.  However, while the Memorial Building still resembles its 19th century appearance, Fuller Hall is essentially unrecognizable from the first photo.  A substantial renovation in the 1950s removed most of the original Second Empire style architectural elements, including the mansard roof (and with it, the entire fourth floor), the three small towers, the front porch, and the window cornices.  A close examination of the 2015 shows the difference between the newer, lighter bricks, and the original, darker-colored bricks.

Memorial Building, Suffield Connecticut

The Middle Building, later named the Memorial Building, on the campus of Suffield Academy, probably around 1920. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The Memorial Building in 2015:

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Suffield Academy was founded in 1833 as the Connecticut Baptist Literary Institute, originally with the objective of training Baptist ministers.  However, the school soon dropped the name “Baptist,” and became the Connecticut Literary Institute.  The school’s original building, later known as the Old South Building, was located where the present-day library is, just to the left of the building seen here.

By the middle of the 19th century, the school had grown and had become co-ed, so more buildings were added to the campus, including the Middle Building, seen here, which opened in 1854.  It was renovated in 1907 and rededicated the following year, to coincide with the school’s 75th anniversary.  A few years later, in 1912, the school renamed itself Suffield School, and in 1937 again changed its name to Suffield Academy.  This historic building also received a new name; in 1950 it was rededicated again as the Memorial Building.  Today, it is used primarily for classrooms and administrative offices, and aside from the removal of the cornices along the roof, it doesn’t look all that different from its appearance nearly 100 years ago.

Kent Memorial Library, Suffield Connecticut

The original Kent Memorial Library building in Suffield, probably taken around 1920. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The building in 2015:

The Kent Memorial Library building was dedicated in 1899, on land previously occupied by the Old South building on the Connecticut Literary Institute campus.  It was the town’s first public library, and was built using funds provided by Suffield native Sidney A. Kent in memory of his parents.  He paid for the construction and for nearly 7,000 books, along with an endowment for the continued operation of the library.  The town used this building until 1972, when a new, larger library was opened across the street.  The new building took the name with it, and the old one was purchased by Suffield Academy, which is the current name for the old Connecticut Literary Institute.  The academy built an addition in the back, and today it serves as the Legare Library.

First Congregational Church, Suffield Connecticut

The First Congregational Church in Suffield, probably taken around 1920. Image from Celebration of the Two Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Settlement of Suffield, Connecticut (1921).

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The church in 2015:

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Suffield’s first church building was built around 1680, and went through a series of relatively short-lived buildings before the present-day one was completed on the west side of the town green in 1869.  It has been used by the church ever since, with a few changes.  The most obvious difference is the steeple; like many other churches in New England, the top of it was destroyed in the September 1938 hurricane, and it has not been replaced.  The other major change isn’t obvious from this angle, but in 1956 a new wing was added to the church on the north (right) side, with classrooms, offices, and other spaces.

Hatheway House, Suffield Connecticut

The Hatheway House on South Main 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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The present-day view of this historic house is dominated by a massive sycamore tree that is even older than the house itself. The tree is estimated to be about 300 years old, while the house was built sometime in the mid 1700s. Sources seem to indicate either 1736 or 1761, but either way the house predates the American Revolution. It was originally owned by Shem Burbank, a wealthy Tory businessman during the American Revolution. Following the war, his loyalty to the British cost him a lot of his business, so his subsequent financial issues forced him to sell the house to Oliver Phelps. The new owner did not hold the property for too long, though, before he had his own monetary problems; Phelps sold the house around 1800 after losing money in a failed land investment.

The new owner was Asahel Hatheway, whose family owned the house for the rest of the century.  During this time, an addition was made to the north (right) side, to go along with the previous addition that Phelps had built in 1794. The house has been well-preserved over the years, even down to the rare 1794 French wallpaper that is still on the walls. Today it is owned by Connecticut Landmarks and open to the public as a museum, providing a glimpse into the 18th and 19th century life of the upper class in the Connecticut River Valley.