St. Patrick Church

24 Beebe Hill Road • Canaan, CT • Litchfield County

Historical Significance

St. Patrick Church was the first Catholic parish in northwest Connecticut, established in 1851 in Falls Village. At that time, Masses were said in private homes, in a schoolhouse in Amesville, or outdoors, weather permitting, under an apple tree on Beebe Hill Road. The congregation of mostly Irish immigrant families reached 800 when the local ironworks was at its peak. Rev. Peter Kelly, the first priest ordained in Hartford, was St. Patrick's second resident pastor after Rev. Christopher Moore.

Photo: View northwest showing south elevation and fa├žade. (Tod Bryant)

He built the first St. Patrick Church in 1854 with funds sent from his mother in Ireland, making it the first Catholic Church on the railroad line between Bridgeport, CT and Pittsfield, MA. The original deed of St. Patrick Church, Falls Village, is dated December 20, 1863. In it, the Falls Village Water Power Company granted one-third acre for $1.00 for the erection of a Roman Catholic Church, with the understanding that if ever after it was directed to any other purpose, the title would revert to the grantor.

At this time, the parish's jurisdiction also included Cornwall, Goshen, Salisbury (Lakeville) and Sharon. By 1875, with a dwindling population due to the closure of the ironworks, the pastor, Rev. Henry J. Lynch, moved the seat of the parish to the newly-established St. Mary, Lakeville and St. Patrick reverted to a mission church.

St. Patrick Church was destroyed by fire on April 15, 1914 and the cause of the fire remains unknown. Rev. John F. Donahue of St. Mary supervised the construction of the new church on Beebe Hill Road which was dedicated in November 1915 by Bishop John J. Nilan. In 1920, administration of the St. Patrick mission was moved to the newly established St. Joseph parish in Canaan.

On October 1, 2003, St. Patrick Church was closed and sold by the Archdiocese of Hartford. It is now a private residence. Reportedly, the round stained glass window from the original St.
Patrick Church is owned by St. Joseph parish. The altar from St. Patrick Church is in use by Immaculate Conception church in Norfolk, CT.


"St. Patrick Church," A Walking Tour of St. Bridget Parish
[ view source ]

Notable Features of Building or Site

There is a square tower surmounted by a pyramidal roof on the north side of the facade.

Interrelationship of Building and Surroundings

The building is in a residential area of single family homes on the edge of a small village.

Additional Information

Date(s):  Built: 1915
Style(s):  Vernacular
Historic Use:  Church
Present Use:  Single family residence

Exterior visible from public road.

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