LOST MANSFIELD # 6: THE CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH IN MANSFIELD CENTER. Founded in 1710, the Congregational church in Mansfield Center is the oldest church in Tolland County.
It is closely connected with the founding and early history of the Town of Mansfield. The first meeting house was constructed on a hill near the old town pond on the west side of Meetinghouse Road (now Browns Road).
The original church was outgrown and was replaced by a larger church, completed in 1754. The second meetinghouse was built on the site where the present day church is located. It was destroyed by fire on March 14, 1866. There is a first-hand account of the fire in a letter written by Robert Porter Barrows to Lucius, his older brother, dated April 16, 1866. “A visiting revivalist preacher, Reverend Potter, had been holding four-day revival meetings commencing on March 13, 1866…” “On the evening of the burning of the Church the body of the house was full and 50 went forward for prayers; as it was dark many lanterns were lit in the parade and we think it was possible the Church took fire that way.”
That same year, the present church was constructed on the same site. It was designed by Edwin S. Fitch and built by Ralph Chappell. In his design, Fitch transitioned from his earlier Greek Revival style to the then favored Italianate style. The new church was reoriented to face the Main Road (now Route 195), rather than Browns Road.
This series is made possible by a Capacity Building Grant from The Last Green Valley, Inc.