Sacred Heart Church

First of three churches at the present location to bear the name Sacred heart.

Located on 156 Providence Street, Taftville

Taftville is a proud mill town. For generations its inhabitants arose and went home to the clanging of the bell at the gigantic Ponemah textile mill. But, for the village’s large Roman Catholic population, the community’s soul is found in its church bell.

The first Mass was celebrated in Taftville on St. Patrick’s Day, 1973. Fitting, since the village that was largely to become French Canadian was first settled by the Irish, escaping famines in the homeland. Fitting, too, that Mass was said in Wequonnoc School, which was owned by the mill that brought Canadians to Taftville by the thousands in search of a better life.

Fire on a Sunday morning, April 29, 1956.

Four years later, a small church was built by the hard work of its parishioners. It was the first of three churches at the present location to bear the name Sacred heart in the small village. The first, dedicated in 1900, was little more than a basement with a roof. It was the very foundation for a major Romanesque church that took 16 years to build.

Sadly, that edifice was destroyed by fire on a Sunday morning, April 29, 1956. The uncontrollable blaze burned for 4.5 hours, consuming everything but the baptismal font at the bell tower.

A scant two years later, the present Sacred Heart Church was dedicated. A modern-looking church even a half-century later, the house of worship at the corner of Hunters Avenue and Providence Street is till the center of spiritual life for Taftville’s active and changing Catholic population.

Van Tassel Explosion

Van Tassel Explosion

Plaque sponsored by the City of Norwich

Located at Central Headquarters on West Main Street

In 1962, a terrible explosion took the lives of four uniformed Norwich firemen. It was the worst loss of lives in the history of Connecticut among firemen at a single fire.

Today, at Central Fire Headquarters, there is a monument to the memory of Captain William J. Sheridan, Fireman Carl J. Burke, Fireman Leonard M. Counihan and Fireman Edward Romano who gave their lives in the performance of their duties at the Van Tassell Warehouse fire on April 3, 1962.

A historic photo of the event, taken by Bob Dick, then photographer for The Norwich Bulletin, shows Fireman Thomas LaFreniere, who survived the explosion, heading back into the fire to rescue his buddies. He was suffering severe shock, and Police Sgt, John Sisco was able to overtake LaFreniere and escort him to safety.

Van Tassel Explosion

Plaque sponsored by the City of Norwich

Located at Central Headquarters on West Main Street

In 1962, a terrible explosion took the lives of four Norwich firemen. It was the worst loss of lives in the history of Connecticut among firemen at a single fire.

Today, at Central Fire Headquarters, there is a monument to the memory of Captain William J. Sheridan, Fireman Carl J. Burke, Fireman Leonard M. Counihan and Fireman Edward Romano who gave their lives in the performance of their duties at the Van Tassell Warehouse fire on April 3, 1962.

A historic photo of the event, taken by Bob Dick, then photographer for The Norwich Bulletin, shows Fireman Thomas LaFreniere, who survived the explosion, heading back into the fire to rescue his buddies. He was suffering severe shock, and Police Sgt, John Sisco was able to overtake LaFreniere and escort him to safety.