First Congregational Church
Gathered in 1743 as the Second Parish of Sheffield, the congregation worshipped in The Meeting House which was located one half mile from here in the Water Street Cemetery near the big bridge. It was one of only three public buildings west of Springfield on the bourgeoning frontier of Massachusetts Bay Colony. The first minister, Rev. Samuel Hopkins, a 22 year old graduate of Yale, found five men willing to accept an extremely strict Puritan Covenant with God. It was the third church founded in this Indian area of Housatunnock: Rev. Hopkins preached here for 25 years. Eventually the people objected to his doctrinal and argumentative style of preaching and the Town refused to pay his salary.
In 1813 the congregation moved to this site and built a Federal Clapboard structure. Although there was a decided moderation of Puritan ethics by this time, strict principles were enforced against the "amusements of the ballroom," "intoxicating liquors" and members who did not attend weekly worship services.
In 1860 a stone church was built to replace the wooden building which had been sold to the Town for use as the Town Hall. The new building measured 108 x 60 ft. with a spire 140 ft. high. On March 4, 1882, fire destroyed the house of worship and adjoining chapel.
structure, designed by W.C. Brocklesby, Hartford, CT, was built upon the lower walls and foundations of the burned church and chapel and dedicated Sept. 21, 1883. Inside is the largest remaining Hilborn L. Roosevelt Organ of 3,954 pipes, a gift of Timothy Hopkins, great, great grandson of first minister. Attached by Cloister is the Parsonage/Manse with its Carriage House (built 1884); architects were Peabody and Stearns of Boston.
The Church Building, Manse and Organ were placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 20, 1992.