New Historic Designation May Mean New Life for (Very) Old Church

Lightning doesn't strike twice so it's a good bet the historic Montville Center Congregational Church will rise again.


It’s official.  

The 165-year-old Montville Center Congregational Church was just listed on the State Register of Historic Places by the Connecticut Historic Preservation Council.

“It’s good news,” said Mayor Ronald K. McDaniel.

The building dates to 1847 but there was an earlier church on the site; it was struck by lightning and some parishioners perished.

In a Sept. 5 letter to the town, Daniel T, Forrest, Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer, explained that while the designation is honorary and doesn’t prevent the town from selling or demolishing the church, for example, it nonetheless will hopefully “serve to encourage the protection of this important historic resource.”

In the summer of 2011, the town acquired the church for $1 through a quitclaim deed. At the time, Town Planner Marcia Vlaun told Montville Patch she hoped to see the church part of a heritage corridor in town that would connect historic sites through trails and paths.

But that takes money.

“It's good news because now we can go for preservation grants,” McDaniel said Monday night as he made the announcement to the Town Council.

A little history

Not everyone was onboard when the town made its move airing concerns about cost. But it was always the goal to seek historic designation, first at the state and then at the national level, which would make it easier to apply for preservation funding.   

Former Montville Patch editor Carrie Jacobson did a

And a opened a window on rich church lore, specifically the lightning strike that changed the history of the site. 


Ellyn Santiago September 12, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Yes, kudos to John Chase and John Geary and everyone that worked so hard to see this realized. Now, on to the national designation!
Chuck Longton September 12, 2012 at 01:03 PM
The mayor did *not* take credit for it. All he did was state that the church was now listed on the Register (because the letter was addressed to his office) and that this opens the way for grant money. Everybody already knows that John Chase and John Geary worked extrordinarily hard to make this happen.
theinformant September 12, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Why is it that nothing can be maintained or repaired without a grant? The town has a working Public Works, they are being paid by the town to work a 40 hour work week. Why can’t they maintain the church? Such as painting, grass cutting and whatever it takes to fix up the inside. They all can’t be busy 40 hours a week every week. There must be some down time where they have a few days with out much to do. This is where the Public Works Director (PWD) should set aside some days to work on the church. I'm sure he has some money in his budget to cover material costs. If that doesn’t happen, then the Mayor should step in and push the PWD to do his job, if the PWD can find time between working his two jobs.
Edward Jones September 12, 2012 at 06:31 PM
I think the towns/cities see anything as a chance to grow spending...... and so a grant lets them spend more....
Fannie Esidore September 13, 2012 at 05:41 AM
My congratulations to both Jon Chase and John Geary for getting this building on the registry. How about having a non-profit group "adopt" the Church for the care and maintenance, after the Historical Society draft guidelines for how to follow the Historical Preservation rules on Historical buildings. I'm sure something could be done that would not leave the Town of Montville holding the purse for expenditures. After a building is gone, there is not getting it back......Preserve it no matter what. My compliments to all connected. Fannie Esidore, former resident


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