First St. Mary’s Church

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 Philip J. Shannon

Located at the intersection of Central Avenue & North Main Street

Once upon a time in Norwich, Irish immigrants fled to American to escape the “great hunger,” the Irish potato famine. Before the famine, many Irish had already settled in Norwich in this area now known as Greeneville. They built shanties along the railroad tracks in what they termed “Twomeyville,” and they earned the title of “Shanty Irish.” They were employed in great numbers to build the Norwich & Worcester Railroad. The Irish brought with them Catholicism, and in the early 1840s, Father James Fitton held Mass among the shanties, for there were few permanent building.

By 1843, the Irish Catholic population had grown sufficiently to require a church. The first Roman Catholic Church in Eastern Connecticut was in this very structure, consecrated in 1845, and remains a tribute to the settlers of Greeneville and the first St. Mary’s parish. By 1853, the Catholic population had increased to over 4,000, and St. Mary’s Church could no longer accommodate the many parishioners.

It was the Irish Catholics from Greeneville who funded the construction of St. Patrick’s Church, which is today St. Patrick’s Cathedral. This building was built to serve the first Catholic population in Norwich. Later, the Irish who fled the famine established themselves in their new world, Norwich. The Irish immigrant population later built for William Greene, about 1842, the mills in Greeneville where many were employed. Thereafter, the shanty town, “Twomeyville,” was officially known as Greeneville.

A Norwich native and parishioner of St. Mary’s, the Very Reverend William P. Brady was ordained and said his first Mass in this original St. Mary’s Church. He later went on to become President of St. John’s College in Brooklyn, New York.

St. Anthony’s Chapel

St. Anthony

Plaque sponsored by the Cape Verdean Community of Norwich

Located on 70 Central Avenue

Inside St. Anthony

Once upon a time in Norwich… Saint Anthony Chapel is rededicated to the memory of Joseph Candido Delgado born in 1882 on the island of Sao Nicolau, Cabo Verde and died June 1967. The chapel, a life-long dream of Joseph C. Delgado, was originally built and dedicated in 1926 at 165 Talman Street in Norwich to pay tribute to the patron Saint Anthony of Padua.

“I had a day dream one day and I saw the chapel and built it according to the picture which was presented to me at that time” –Joseph C. Delgado

St. Mary’s RC Church the Parish of the Cape Verdean Community of Norwich and the Delgado Family join with the Cape Verdean community to dedicate this chapel as a symbol of faith on this Twenty-ninth day of April 2006.

First Congregational Church

First Congregational Church

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

Located on 81 East Town Street

This Church is the fifth meeting house erected in Norwich. The first meeting house, built around 1660, stood near the southeast corner of the Green. The second meeting house, erected in 1675, was on the summit of Meeting House Rocks and served as a lookout against Indian raids during King Philip’s War. The third meeting house was built on the hill near the site of the old one and completed in 1713.

The fourth Church was built at the corner of the Green, completed in 1770 and consumed to ashes in 1801 by a fire of incendiary origin. The cornerstone of the present Church, the fifth, was laid on June 18, 1801, by General Ebenezer Huntington.

The existing building is representative of the period when the huge, barn-like structures of the 18th century were becoming more ornate. This is evidenced by the square two-story tower and projecting portico which repeats the rather flat lines of the roof and the corner quoins of the main building. The structure was extensively remodeled in 1845 and in later years.

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.”

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.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Plaque sponsored by Mr. & Mrs. James P. Cronin

Located on 213 Broadway

Once upon a time in Norwich, from its founding in 1659 through the 1700s, when Samuel Huntington and Benedict Arnold walked the byways of this city, and even after the election of George Washington as the new nation’s first president, no Catholics lived in Norwich. Only after the War of 1812, in 1824, did Edward Murphy, the first Irish Catholic, take up residence.

In 1831, Father James Fitton administered the first baptism, and the first Catholic marriage occurred in 1840. The “great hunger,” the potato famine in Ireland, brought the Irish immigrants to Norwich & Worcester Railroad.

The first Holy Sacrifice of the Mass was on December 25, 1844 at St. Mary’s Church in lower Greeneville. By 1853, the Catholic population numbered over 4,000. In 1867, it was determined that another church was needed. Father Daniel Mullen, Pastor of St. Mary’s, purchased this site, and on Good Friday, April 7, 1871, the work on St. Patrick’s Church began. The Irish from Greeneville marched 1,700 strong, led by Dr. Patrick Cassidy, to the present site. Horses and carts, filled with picks and shovels, arrived with the workers, and form Good Friday morning to Easter Sunday the volunteer army dug the complete foundation by hand. Parishioners paid 10 cents a week and thus paid for the Gothic church. Father Shahan said the first Mass on a temporary altar on St. Patrick’s Day, 1879.

The great hurricane of 1938 severely damaged the church. Undaunted, the pastor, Father Alexander F. Mitchell, led the restoration efforts and assured the parishioners the church would be returned to its former majestic presence, especially the beautiful St. Patrick window which had sustained significant damage. In 1950, Monsignor John J. Reilly, director of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, was assigned to St. Patrick’s and given the task of renovating the Gothic church into a cathedral to become the seat of the Diocese of Norwich. The church was consecrated as a cathedral on September 2, 1952. His Holiness Pope Pius XII named the Most Reverend Bernard J. Flanagan of Burlington, Vermont as Norwich’s first bishop.