St. John Roman Catholic Church

19 St. John Square • Middletown, CT • Middlesex County

Historical Significance

In 1823, Boston's bishop sent the movement stirring. He made a visit to Hartford and said Mass. This was followed by Bishop Benedict Fenwick who had Rhode Island and Connecticut under his care. He assigned the task of visiting the small groups of Catholics in Connecticut to Fr. Robert D. Woodley. In 1829, Rev. Woodley visited New London, New Haven, and Middletown.

Figure: St. John's Church c.1852. (St. John Roman Catholic Church)

He was followed in 1830 by Rev. James Fitton who became a legend in his time. Rev. Fitton had been ordained in 1827. His first assignment was with the Native Americans in Maine. Later, he ministered to the Catholics in Vermont. Middlesex County in 1835 came under the care of Rev. James MacDermont.

Photo: View north showing façade. (Tod Bryant)

St. John School

It had been the hope of Rev. John Brady, Jr., to establish a parochial school for the children of the parish. The expenses of the new church precluded such an idea until 1855. At that time, the school was slated to be held in the original church building. Heading the school was a lawyer by the name of Mr. Andrew Cody. Assisting him were the sisters Misses Mabel A. and Helen Fagan, members of a local family. Before Rev. Brady could see his dream realized, Bishop O'Reilly relieved him of his pastoral duties.

Photo: View northwest of school showing façade and arch linking the school to the church. (Tod Bryant)

His successor, Rev. Mangan, took over control of the school and was later followed by Rev. Lynch. In 1866, the school was turned over to the city school system. Rev. Lynch, in order to return the school to the church's control, started his efforts to establish a convent. He hoped to staff it with religious teachers in order to provide for the necessary form of instruction desired by the church. A contract was drawn up and construction started. With only partial completion of the convent, the Sisters moved in from Ireland. In September 1882, the city of Middletown gave control of the school back to the church. In 1887, Rev. Sheridan contracted to erect a school building.

Using the area just west of the church, known as the Hall House, a four-story building was erected. It was to be constructed of brick made locally. The top story was to be used for church affairs. This was later converted to classrooms. Dennis O'Brien, a local contractor, was awarded the masonry portion and O.O. Stowe, the interior.

Photo: View northeast of Rectory showing west elevation and façade. (Tod Bryant)


"About Us," St. John Roman Catholic Church,
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Notable Features of Building or Site

The main block of this building is a modest brownstone church. It most impressive feature is a square tower on the west of its facade . The tower has buttresses at each corner and it is surmounted by a very tall and elaborate steeple with multiple lancet windows and pinnacles, as well as a patterned slate roof.

Interrelationship of Building and Surroundings

These buildings are in the midst of a dense urban area on a busy entrance/exit road to Connecticut Route 9, Chester Bowles Highway. the school is to the west of the church and the rectory across St. John Street to the east.

Additional Information

Date(s):  Built 1852
Style(s):  Gothic Revival
Historic Use:  Church
Present Use:  Church
Architect:  Patrick Keely

Exterior visible from public road.
Interior accessible (during services and at other times).

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