SCROLL TO BOTTOM OF PAGE FOR A LIST OF MONTHLY RESTORATION UPDATES
WELCOME TO THE FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, WOODBRIDGE SANCTUARY PAGE
The Parish of Amity (a theocracy) was incorporated in 1738, when it officially separated from the larger Milford Parish. The Town of Woodbridge, named for the first Amity Pastor, Benjamin Woodbridge, was incorporated by the Connecticut General Assembly in 1784. The original Meetinghouse, built in 1739, was replaced by the current Meetinghouse in 1832. The Greek Revival architecture reflected the colonial style that was popular at the time. Designed by a Society of Amity committee, the building was constructed of hand-hewn post and beam lumber by Amos Hine and John J. Perkins and local volunteers. The interior was upgraded and painted in the current trompe l'oeil/grisaille decor in 1860.
Now known as First Church of Christ, Woodbridge, the church Meetinghouse anchors the town center and is designated on the National Register of Historic Places. The church and seven other buildings comprise a National Historic District. The church Green, an oval of open space that fronts the church, is "leased" to the Town. Historically and currently, the church is a center for both faith-based and secular community activities. As an Open and Affirming community that welcomes and includes everyone in the life of the church and with mission activities in Woodbridge, New Haven County, and the larger world, it remains culturally relevant.
As with any historic building, periodic maintenance, restoration, and redecorating of the Meetinghouse has been required throughout its history. Major structural repairs and upgrades were conducted in the 1920's, 1950's, 2001, and 2017. A new roof was installed in 2014. The trompe I'oeil interior of the sanctuary was last repainted in 1986, the same year that repairs were made to the beams that supported the bell in the bell tower. To maintain the traditional historical integrity of the building, the FCCW has always involved experts to advise us and to undertake the work.
In late 2015, two large beams in the attic 'failed', the entire structure shifted, cornices and joints separated, and the plaster ceiling cracked. To gain the finest professional advice on how best to stabilize and repair the structure and the plasterwork, the church used a Connecticut Trust matching grant to hire qualified engineers and architects to conduct condition assessments of both structure (Jim Norden, GNCB, Old Saybrook) and plasterwork (David Riccio, John Canning Co., Cheshire). In addition, Mr. Norden provided us specific engineering design drawing documents. Further matching funds for the repair work was granted by the State Historical Preservation Office (SHPO) and, in accordance with their requisite bidding process, the stabilization of both ceiling and structure was successfully completed in 2017 and 2018 by John Canning Co. (Cheshire) and Kronenberger and Sons (Middletown), respectively.
The stabilization process, however, has left the ceiling in poor shape with the trompe l'oeil decor severely compromised, many cracks,and extensive areas of shiny 'plugs' where product was injected to secure the ceiling. The ceiling and repaired cornices currently have large areas of unpainted plaster. The damage throughout the Meetinghouse is evident.
PLASTER REPAIR AND REPAINTING:
The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) provided a grant that supported a competitive bid process for an evaluation and recommendations for the restoration of the sanctuary décor. A formal report and budget estimates from the renowned decorative arts company John Canning Company of Cheshire, Connecticut were completed in February 2020 and are available on this page.
(*see photo gallery below)
In 2021, the SHPO enthusiastically embraced our plans to repaint and granted us $100,000 in matching funds for Phase One of the work which will include the ceiling, cornices, north wall, and re-installation of the plaster medallion above the chandelier at a cost of $250,000. The SHPO has also approved our contracting with the Canning Company to conduct the restoration work. We will receive the SHPO funding only on completion of the work.
We need to raise $150,000. Several generous donations from the wider community and from parishioners already have us more than one-third of the way to that goal. Donations have been made by individuals and families: some were given in honor of or in memory of past members or loved ones. Thank you to everyone.
Please support this effort to both celebrate the courage and foresight of our FCCW forefathers and to invest in our future by sending a check made out to the FCCW, memo line: Sanctuary Fund, to the church office at 5 Meetinghouse Lane, Woodbridge, CT 06525. Pay Pal and all major credit cards can also be used to donate to the Sanctuary Fund. Gifts of any size are most appreciated.
ALL ARE WELCOME!
We are re-opening the church in accordance with the CDC Covid guidelines and look forward to welcoming you all to faith services, social events, and to our many community activities in the future. Come hear our music and join us on this journey as the original beauty of the sanctuary décor is revealed once again.