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.

Miantonomo Monument

Here lies Miantonomo

Plaque sponsored by the Mohegan Tribe

Located on Elijah Street

After being captured along with some of his leaders at the Battle of Great Plains, Miantonomo and his warriors were taken to Shantok by Uncas. He was treated well but Uncas finally was ordered to surrender him to the English so they could decide the Narragansett’s fate. Miantonomo was kept in prison for about six weeks, and then the authorities had him released to Uncas and his warriors with orders to execute him away from any of the settlers’ towns, so Narragansett reprisals would not fall on their heads. Hopkins, Whiting, and John Mason, along with eight soldiers, had accompanied the Mohegans to see that the sentence was carried out and to defend Uncas in case the Narragansetts sought to avenge Miantonomo’s execution. Miantonomo was executed with a hatchet in a single stroke wielded by Wawecqua, the brother of Uncas, somewhere on the path between Hartford and Norwich.

This single act would prevent the Mohegans and Narragansetts from ever uniting against colonists.

Benjamin Trumbull, writing 175+ years after the fact, says that the execution was at Sachem’s Plain but none of the original documents have “Sachem’s Plain” as an execution place. Recent scholars tend to agree that Miantonomo was probably executed along the path between Hartford and Norwich, probably sooner rather than later, to avoid the possibility of the Narragansetts swooping downs and freeing their sachem en route; and well away from any settlement, in agreement with the United Colony’s orders.

Ponemah Mill

Ponemah Mill

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 Gernon Trust

Located on Route 69 & Route 97, Taftville

Construction of the great Ponemah Cotton Mill began in 1866. A group of investors, led by Edward and Cyrus Taft of Providence, Rhode Island, purchased a 600 acre farm on the Shetucket River. The first mill was 750 feet long and 74 feet wide. It began operation in 1871. The name “Ponemah” was taken from Longfellow’s poem, Song of Hiawatha, and was said to mean “our hope.” The mill owners built a village to house the workers, naming it Taftville after the principal investors. The main street of the new village was named Providence Street.

The Ponemah Mill spun and wove imported Egyptian cotton into very high quality cloth for the luxury trade. A bitter strike in 1875, led to the eviction of mill workers who were mostly comprised of Irish Americans. New workers were recruited from French Canada. Taftville became noted as a French Canadian community.

Major expansions of the mill were made in 1884, 1902, and 1910. At its peak, the Ponemah Mill employed 1600 workers and produced over 20 million yards of cloth a year. They boasted that a pound of cotton could be spun into a single strand of yarn 100 miles long. In the 20th century, the mill successfully converted to the production of synthetic fabrics. It was closed in 1972; one of the last great New England mill to shut down. Today, a variety of stereophonic equipment, woolen yarn spinning, and automated production control equipment, as well as a number of retail shops, occupies its space.

Dr. Ier Manwaring Home

Dr Ier Manwaring

Located on Manwaring Road

Dr. Ier Manwaring was one of Norwich’s first women medical doctors. She died at the age of eight-five in 1957. Born in Montville, Connecticut, December 29, 1872, she was the daughter of John and Mercy (Raymond) Manwaring. Her parents moved to Norwich in 1877, taking up residence in the beautiful country estate in East Great Plain where she lived until her death.

She was educated in the Broadway School (now gone) and received her medical education in Women’s Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from which she graduated in 1895.

In World War I, as a member of the American Women’s Hospital Unit No. 1, she was decorated by the French Government for service at Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood.

Several years ago the house was moved from its original site (where the Thames Valley Institute now stands) to Manwaring Road.

Maplewood Cemetery

Maplewood Cemetery

Plaque sponsored by the Maplewood Cemetery Board of Directors, 2002

Located on 184 Salem Turnpike

Once upon a time in Norwich…the citizens realized at the turn of the century that the expansion of Yantic Cemetery, located on Lafayette Street and founded in 1843, or the City Cemetery, located on Oak Street and founded in 1755, was impractical. For this reason it was now time to locate a suitable property for a new interdenominational burial ground.

The Norwich Cemetery Association was formed on March 24, 1902, and the Osgood Farm, located in East Great Plains was purchased on June 17, 1902. The Beebe family cemetery, which predates Maplewood by many years, is located within its boundaries.

A contest, sponsored by The Norwich Bulletin, offered a ten-dollar prize “to the person who should first send to The Norwich Bulletin the successful name for the new cemetery.” Mary R. Griswold of West Main Street was the prize winner.

Upon its origin, it was decide that the new cemetery would maintain a park-like atmosphere, which was popular among modern cemeteries of that period. A variety of plantings including shade trees, would be established to provide a comfortable setting for visitors.

Today, the 138-acre property continues to maintain a park-like atmosphere as it serves Norwich and the surrounding communities. Maplewood Cemetery is a not-for-profit, nondenominational cemetery governed by a board of directors and trustees who volunteer their time to direct the affairs of the cemetery.

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 Alms Fire

The Alms Fire

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 Grange

Located on Asylum Street

Once upon a time in Norwich, behind this site, stood the poor farm and the mental asylum for which Asylum Street was named. Norwich’s first poor house was on lower Washington Street. As the city prospered, successful merchants, bankers, manufactures and sea captains built mansions of Washington Street, forcing the poor farm to this site.

One March 12, 1876, at 2:00 a.m., a fire was reported. The facility, having been deliberately removed to this remote section of town, burned before help arrived. Sixteen mental patients, locked in their rooms, were unable to escape and burned to death. In this field, most of those bodies are buried.

The poor farm was rebuilt and used for many years. Those who died there without friends or family, numbering well over 100, are also buried beneath this field in unmarked graves. In later years, mental patients were cared for at the Norwich State Hospital. The poor farm was ultimately abandoned, sold and was again destroyed by fire in 1956.

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.