Over 375 years of history in New Haven.
A Shared History
Our church was organized on August 23, 1639, by the same Puritans who founded the New Haven Colony as a theocratic “New Jerusalem.” These first English settlers arrived in April of 1638, led by the Reverend John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton, who was elected as the colony’s first governor.
The present Meeting House, built 1812-1814, is the fourth meeting house of the congregation. The edifice was built over the colony’s ancient burial grounds on the Green, and thus the basement with numerous burial stones is referred to as the Crypt.
For almost two hundred years, until a new state constitution was passed in 1818, Congregationalism was the established religion in Connecticut. The founding fathers’ dream was to establish a holy commonwealth with the right to self-govern with local autonomy of the church.
Ithiel Town, the famous New Haven architect, modeled the fourth meeting house of Center Church built in the Post-Georgian or Federal style after St. Martin’s in the Fields on Trafalgar Square in London.
He supervised the construction of both Center Church and the adjacent Trinity Episcopal Church at the same time during the War of 1812 (1812-1814).
The church, which has been significantly remodeled over the years, seats over 600, and includes a number of distinguished architectural details.
Ever notice that the main floor of the church is raised up a few feet higher than the rest of the green? Underneath lies a well-preserved part of American history.
The Crypt is an ancient cemetery with gravestones from 1687 to 1812. Step back into the past; hear about 300 years of history unrivaled in all of New England.