Asylum Hill Congregational Society Moves Forward on Parish House

04/15/1903 |

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The Asylum Hill Congregational Ecclesiastical Society held a special meeting to consider and act on the report of Sidney Williams Clark, chair of the federation of Young People’s societies, which had raised the $25,000 for the new parish house. The ecclesiastical society voted to accept both the money and the plans for the parish house and then formed a building committee to oversee the project, which would also include a new heating system for the church, if it could all be done for $25,000.

Neat little tidbits

The plans for the parish house included

  • A main door that would serve as entry to both the new parish house and the existing chapel
  • A parlor or office for the pastor on the first floor, just inside the entrance
  • Two large rooms with a smaller room in between, separated by sliding doors that would allow rooms to be connected
  • A kitchen on the second floor
  • A choir room on the second floor, directly above the pastor’s parlor
  • A large hall on the second floor, with a stage and dressing rooms

The architect for the project was Edward T. Hapgood.  The projected completion date was January 1, 1904.

Trust but verify

The plan for the parish house mostly resembled Joseph Twichell pitched in his March 1902 sermon except for one key difference:  the price tag.  Twichell pitched a parish house that would have cost $35,000, and this plan was $10,000 less.  it’s not clear when or how the plans presented today took shape or whether fundraising had anything to do with the contraction of the original vision.  It could be that the extra $10,000 was intended for furnishing the parish house, which was not covered in the plan or its budget.

Put into context

All that notwithstanding, the project wouldn’t be completed either on time or on budget.

Speculating without evidence

The large hall on the second floor was intended to host small concerts and lectures that were, at this point in time, held in the chapel, and the article noted that there was no other appropriate venue on Asylum Hill for these events.  The church had long seen itself as a host of events for the neighborhood, and this plan raises a question as to whether this public function had come to interfere with the original purpose of the chapel.  It is interesting to note that 30 years later, when the Gross Memorial Chapel was built, the original chapel would be converted into an “entertainment wing.”

Sources

Unattributed, “All the Money Raised,” Hartford Courant, April 13, 1903, page 4.

Unattributed, “In New Parish House – Asylum Hill Church People Take Possession,” Hartford Courant, February 13, 1904, page 6.

Unattributed, “New Parish House,” Hartford Courant, April 16, 1903, page 8.
















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