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Congregational Church Green

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In 1662 the General Court in Hartford was petitioned by a group of pioneers for permission to settle the land that is now Clinton. The petition was granted and Clinton was laid out, c. 1665, along the Boston Post Road. In 1665 lot 19 out of the original 30 lots was chosen for the meetinghouse and Rev. John Woodbridge, the first minister, was called in 1667. The first meetinghouse was built prior to Woodbridge's arrival. It was made of crude lumber and had a lookout tower where men could watch for danger during worship service. The second church was built in 1700. It was 35 square feet and had one of the first bells in the area. The building faced west, on the southwest side of Meeting House Hill. An engraving of that church shows a well to the west of the entrance. The third church was built in 1731 at the same location as the previous buildings.

From 1694 to 1707 Dr. Abraham Pierson was pastor. In 1701 he instituted classes in his home. This school later became Yale University.

The fourth and present church was built in 1837. This building was the first to face south and the first to be located on the top of Meeting House Hill. In 1892 a clock was presented as a gift to the town, and it was deeded to the church for a dollar in 1972.

A map from 1881 shows the Abraham Pierson Monument in place and the western portion of the green ringed with trees. The driveway is shown in the same location as today.

In 1961 a dispute arose as to who owned the portion of the green directly in front of the church. Since no formal deeds had been drawn up at the time of the separation of church and state, neither party could prove clear ownership. The town proposed that the church trade property it owned on Waterside Lane for the green property. An article from the New Haven Register of June 9, 1961, reports that the church initially turned down the offer, but the exchange was finally made in 1976.

The green is significant as the site of the first meetinghouse in Clinton and the site of the Abraham Pierson Monument. The green exists as a testament to the former union between church and town government.



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