Church celebrates building centennial next month

LHUMC photo
LHUMC photo

The summer of 1918 was full of tragic news in Connecticut. The horrors of World War I were still being recorded daily. The influenza epidemic was spreading across the state and would claim almost 6,000 lives in Connecticut alone, and the overall nation’s economy was struggling.

In 1918, the tiny town of Trumbull boasted only 2,600 residents. Most had their roots in agriculture. And on July 14, the first services were held in the brand new Long Hill Methodist Church at 6358 Main Street.

The building was new, but the church had been founded nearly 90 years earlier, when the Methodist Episcopal Society of Trumbull was formed. Justice of the Peace Elijah Middlebrooks gave the OK for the people to organize and for $200 they purchased a two room house at what is now the intersection of Lewis and Daniels Farm Roads.

Historian Dorothy Seely uncovered a document illustrating how things were done in the 1830s. The first supplies for the new church were purchased.

“A lamp for $2.64, three gallons of lamp oil for $2.60, and $2 for a table for said lamp and with $4.25 to cover the costs of sweeping out the meeting house for the year,” Seely wrote.

The new church drew people from Trumbull, Monroe, Easton and Huntington, who walked along dirt paths to attend. There was no stove that first winter as wood was too costly. Methodists of the 1830’s would carry tin boxes with hot coals from home to use as foot warmers, and hoped they would last.

“An entire day of religious instruction was hardly considered long enough,” Seely wrote.

Over the years, the church would change locations several times with periods of large membership mixed in with lean years. Finally in 1916 the parishioners decided it was time for a real church, according to Seely. That work lasted two years until the summer of 1918.

Many of the interior beams still visible inside the sanctuary were hauled from Bridgeport’s docks including some which were used by circus showman, and future Bridgeport Mayor P.T. Barnum for his elephants and other animals.

On Sunday, August 12, Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton will lead the 100th anniversary service, assisted by Long Hill Pastor Edward Dayton. The service and ceremonies are open to the community and will begin at 10 a.m., with a fellowship luncheon to follow.