Brief History of Our Church
Lawrence Carlton, MD
This Parish was officially established in 1750 as The First Ecclesiastical Society of West Simsbury and a preacher was hired. A meetinghouse was not erected until 1763. There was no separation of Church and State in those days and the building was also used for town meetings and other public gatherings.
The population grew rapidly and a petition for incorporation as a new town originated in the old meetinghouse in 1806. The newly-named First Ecclesiastical Society of Canton continued to manage church affairs but new town officials took over taxes, roads, and other matters. In 1814 the old meetinghouse was dismantled because it was too small, and the present structure erected on the same site.
In 1873 a Gothic remodeling was accomplished on the church interior; galleries and high pulpit were removed and stained glass Gothic windows installed. Also a false ceiling with acorn pendants was hung and central heating replaced the old wood stoves.
The Church School was founded in 1819; over the years the classes have been held in the main sanctuary, the old Conference House across the street (originally built as a warming place and demolished after our new Parish House was constructed in 1959), and the 1848 schoolhouse, and the present Parish House.
In 1968 the entire interior of the church was restored to an approximation of what it was like prior to the Gothic additions in 1873. Additional office and classroom space was added to the Parish House in 1986.
Twenty-nine settled pastors plus numerous interim and part-time preachers have served the Canton Center Church. The year 2000 marked the 250th anniversary of the founding of the church, which was celebrated during the year with several events.
Through all its years this Church has endeavored to be a significant focus of social activities for the community, and, as in the past, continues to play a significant role in preparing our young people for Christian commitment in whatever their chosen roles in life.