Beth Jacob Community Synagogue 1979-Present

beth jacob community present

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Plaque sponsored by the Norwich Hebrew Home For the Aged

Located on 400 New London Turnpike

For 50 years this United Synagogue of America Congregation (conservative movement) resided on Church Street in downtown Norwich. In 1975 a new secular administration was elected on a platform that it was time to relocate. The geographic dispersion of the congregation indicated a need to move closer to residential clusters and the needs of the congregation’s activities begged for less, but more flexible space.

Between 1975 and 1979, this successful project was undertaken. The Beth Jacob Community Synagogue moved into its new home in September 1979.

Beth Jacob Community Synagogue 1929-1979

Beth Jacob Community Synagogue 1929-1979

Plaque sponsored by the Norwich Hebrew Home For the Aged

Located on 100 Church Street

In the summer of 1929, twenty-nine Jewish families came together to found a more liberal congregation, The Norwich Jewish Community Synagogue. In 1934 the name was changed to the Beth Jacob Community Synagogue.

Principally first and second generation immigrants, from eastern Europe, these courageous Jewish pioneers wanted a more modern, American approach to their historic religion, one that would teach their children the heritage of their fathers while blending more seamlessly into the American landscape.

The new Conservative Jewish movement afforded this with its mixed seating of men and women, services in a blend of English and Hebrew, and sermons in English.

By 1979 the old church building was visibly worn and the congregation built a new home at 400 New London Turnpike.

The Brothers of Joseph Synagogue

The Brothers of Joseph

The picture of a proud Irish Mary Collins Stanley with her three boys Bill, Jim and Chick, taken over 100 years ago.

Plaque sponsored by the Norwich Hebrew Home For the Aged

Located on 2 Broad Street

The Congregation was founded by Russian immigrant Jews in 1883, who unlike other predecessors, insisted all secular proceedings would be in Yiddish. A burial society was formed the same year. In 1884, the name Brothers of Joseph was adopted.

In 1898 their first permanent synagogue was built on West Main Street, The synagogue’s first rabbi, in circa 1895, was Joseph Baron, believed to be the first full time rabbi to serve in Norwich. In 1909, he was succeeded by Rabbi Joseph N. Rosenburg, who served 42 years, until his passing in 1950.

In 1964, under the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Michael D. Geller, a new house of study and worship was built on the Osgood site at the corner of Broad and Washington Streets. The congregation moved from its 1898 West Main Street home.

Norwich City Hall

Plaque sponsored by the City of Norwich

Located on Union Square

In colonial times, the court and town hall was located on the Norwichtown Green but in 1829 was moved to Court Street on Jail Hill in Chelsea—a gesture commensurate with the economic and political influence gained by the harbor district. Fire destroyed that building in 1865, and the current imposing Second Empire structure was constructed between 1870-1873.

This combined county courthouse and city hall office building, inspired by the Louvre, with an impressive façade of Philadelphia pressed brick and windows trimmed granite, is located prominently on Union Square. Total cost of $324,732 was enormous and illustrated Norwich’s prestige and wealth.

Local construction firms involved designer and general contractor, Burdick and Arnold, with another local contractor, John Murphy, laying the foundation. Joseph Smith installed the brick and granite.

Following the 127 years of use and service, a totally of $4,500,000 was expended in the year 2000 on maintenance code renovations.

Angelo Sanquedolce Memorial Plaza

Plaque sponsored by the City of Norwich

Located in City Hall Plaza on Union Square

The Heritage Riverfront Park Plaza is hereby named and dedicated in honor of Angelo J. Sanquedolce, Comptroller of the City of Norwich from 1968 to 1998, for thirty years of exemplary public service, and for numerous and lasting contributions to the well-being of others, pursuant to a resolution adopted by the Norwich City Council on November 16, 1998. His professional and personal accomplishments, expertise and commitment to excellence established a lofty standard for all to emulate.

Angelo J. Sanquedolce was a veteran of the Korean Conflict, a highly respected leader and a goodwill ambassador for the City. He leaves a proud, lasting legacy as a distinguished, innovative municipal official and compassionate humanitarian. Angelo J. Sanquedolce will forever be remembered and admired for his significant achievements, and for his devotion and faithfulness to duty, family, friends, and community.

Central Baptist Church

Plaque sponsored by members of Central Baptist Church

Located on Union Square

Central Baptist Church was founded in 1840 and under the zeal and energy of Rev. Miner G. Clarke grew rapidly to over 400 members. The church’s first organist, Ithamar Conkey, composed the music to “In the Cross of Christ I Glory” in 1849. William Howard Doane, the prominent hymn writer, was baptized in the church in 1851. The present edifice was constructed on this site in 1891 at a cost of $68,300 and in 1899, Bushnell Chapel, since replaced in 1978, was erected. The present Sunday school, known originally as the “Gilbert Property,” was purchased in 1925 and subsequently joined to the church by an office wing, largely through the efforts of Charles D. and Charles F. Noyes. The cornerstone of the present building was laid in 1891, “that upon it may stand for years to come a temple that shall be open to all who desire to worship the God of our Fathers, whether they be rich or poor, high or low, home or foreign born, and without respect to races or conditions, all shall be alike, welcome.”

Otis Library

Plaque sponsored by the Otis Library

Located on Union Square

Once upon a time in Norwich… Joseph Otis, who had earned his fortune elsewhere, returned to his hometown at the age of 70, and wishing to do something lasting for the people of Norwich, founded a public library in his name on this spot. He purchased the land and planned to have the library built after his death, but at the urging of his pastor, he completed construction of the building during his lifetime.

Opening in 1850, under the administration of Otis’ handpicked Board of Trustees, Otis Library served the city at this location until relocated to Main Street in 1962.

African-American Heritage

Plaque sponsored by the Gernon Trust

Located on 76 Church Street

In the late 1600’s and 1700’s, Norwich was an important colonial seaport trading with the West Indies. Slaves were imported to southeastern Connecticut from the West Indies during this period. They became personal servants, laborers, and craftsmen. By 1756, the black community numbered 223. Many had purchased their own freedom or had been freed by their owners. Former slave, Guy Druck, a blacksmith, build the house at 76 Church Street in the 1750’s. His skills were renowned and actively sought by ship builders for components such as anchors. Blacks from Norwich, such as Leb Quy, fought in the American Revolution. The first public outcry against slavery in Norwich was published in the Norwich Packet in 1774. Connecticut later passed legislation to gradually abolish slavery in 1784.

In the 19th century, black settlement centered on Jail Hill, where a thriving community existed by the mid-century. Discriminated against for employment in the mills, Norwich’s black residents worked on the docks, railroads, steamboats, and in hotels. Many, like escaped slave James Linsley Smith, a shoemaker, were engaged in crafts. Others owned restaurants and small businesses.

Norwich was on one of the routes of the Underground Railroad; the secret network helped escaped slaves from the south reach safety in Canada. David Ruggles, an important “conductor” based in New York, was native of Norwich.

In the 20th century, new immigrants from the American south and Cape Verde Islands settled in Norwich thus enriching the life of the community.

The Glebe House

Located on 62 Church Street

Built in 1768 this was the home of the Reverend John Tyler, Rector of Christ Church for 54 years. He had been ordained by the Bishop of London. During the Revolution religious services were held in the house. Reverend Tyler took part in the historic meeting of March 25, 1783 at the Glebe House in Woodbury, Connecticut, at which Samuel Seabury was selected as the first American Episcopal Bishop. The house was later occupied by William Tyler Olcott, author and astronomer, who was the great-great-grandson of Reverend Tyler.

The 26th Regiment

Plaque sponsored by the Waitte Insurance Agency

Located on Union Street at Broadway

Once upon a time in Norwich, the 26th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers formed. The members were all from Eastern Connecticut. During the Civil War, 194 of them were killed or wounded in one day. This monument is to their memory.

There is no single event in the history of Eastern Connecticut that was more tragic than the Battle of Fort Hudson fought on May 27, 1863.

Port Hudson was strategic to the Confederate strategy and was the backdoor for providing supplies and ammunition. The great ports of Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia were blockaded. It was a time prior to the Battle of Gettysburg and Vicksburg.

There were 557 men in the 26th Regiment, and on that single day, in the heat of the state of Louisiana, on the banks of the Mississippi, 52 were killed and 142 wounded. The casualty rate was 30%; worse than the Battle of Iwo Jima or the Invasion of Normandy during World War II.