Our History

Methodism was introduced in New England in 1745 by the Reverend George Whitefield who was often accompanied by the famous Indian Preacher, Samuel Occum from Lebanon, Connecticut. However, no Methodist societies were formed.

Reverend Jesse Lee was made responsible for the Hartford, Connecticut circuit and in 1790 he preached east of the Connecticut River in East Hartford, Manchester and Tolland. As a result, Methodist classes were founded in all of those places. Many people from Square Pond (as the white people called Waboquosette) attended the preaching in Tolland and a class was formed at the Pond in 1790. The first Methodist parsonage built in New England was completed by the people of Square Pond in 1791. The Square Pond Church was completed in 1792 just weeks before Tolland completed theirs. These were the fourth and fifth Methodist Churches build in New England. Sadly, both churches were destroyed by fire in the mid-1800’s. Square Pond became a preaching place, probably because of the availability here of the Methodist Parsonage for the “circuit riders”. The first Methodist Camp Meeting was held at Bolton, Connecticut in 1805, where Lorenzo Dow preached. The following year, the camp meeting was held at Square Pond just down the hill from the church.

Then, in the winter of 1829-1830, the church burned down. Unfortunately, a falling out amongst the members split the church and since no accord could be reached, two churches were built; one on the old site and one directly across the street.

Then came the Civil War and afterwards a general exodus of people from the area to the west. In the 1800’s there were too few people at Square Pond to support the two churches, and they both closed. However, on June 27, 1897 a service was held with sixty-five people from both churches in attendance. The church became known as the Community Church. In rapid succession, a Board of Trustees was elected and a Sunday School, Ladies’ Aid and a Youth Group were organized. Average attendance for the first yer was seventy in the summer and fifty in the winter. Not long after, a group raised the funds to add a bell tower to the church and installed a “sweet sounding bell”. The Ladies’ Aid had a horse shed built where the Community Hall now stands.

In 1949-1950, the church was remodeled inside and out. A center door, instead of the two doors, was installed, the ceiling was refinished, new pews installed, two small rooms build in the back and a platform with a communion rail was built at the front. In 1951, the former second church, was moved across the street and set on a foundation adjacent to the newly-remodeled church, after the horse sheds were removed.

In 1966 the First Parsonage was purchased from the State of Connecticut and moved to the church property across the street from the church and next to the parking lot. It was dedicated in 1995 as a Methodist Historic Site. The Crystal Lake Historical Society attempted to restore the building to its 1795-1800 condition.

In the early 1970’s, after a steady increase in both membership and attendance, the property on the corner of Skinner Road and West Shore Road was purchased. There were two houses on the property. Both were renovated; the smaller red house as a rental property and the larger white house as a Methodist Parsonage. For the first time, Crystal Lake had a resident minister.

For over 200 years the people of Crystal Lake have worked hard to maintain a church. With continued hard work, it will still be here 200 years hence and into the far future.

This history was written in 1997 by Church Historian Robert G. W. Brown.