St. Andrew’s was the pioneer colonial Episcopal church in northern Connecticut. Small numbers of early colonists living in the Simsbury-Windsor area had no choice of worship other than the First Church, Congregational, in Simsbury. This all changed on December 15, 1740 when six hard-headed Yankees living in that part of Simsbury known as Scotland notified their Congregational brethren that they cherished the Church of England and claimed the liberty of worship as granted by law. Thus was established St. Andrew’s Church, an island of Anglicans in a Congregational ocean.
By 1743 these “professors of the Church of England” had built a meeting house just east of where the present church stands and had also secured 50 acres of land. This land, the Glebe, was to provide a source of income for future ministers. St. Andrew’s flourished through the Revolutionary War and into the nineteenth century led by three outstanding rectors: The Rev’d William Gibbs, The Rev’d Roger Viets, and The Rev’d Ambrose Todd.
The historic parish cemetery was opened in 1748 with the burial of a native American boy, “Charls” the son of John Robbins. Since, hundreds of men, women and children have found this eternal resting place, including many Revolutionary War and Civil War veterans.
In 1807, a replacement church building was erected approximately 2 miles to the south, a site that was thought to be closer to the center of a growing population. Anticipated benefits from this move failed to materialize and, in 1828, the church building was moved back to the original property where it stands today.
St. Andrew’s Church served the community of northern Connecticut through much of the remainder of the nineteenth century. Substantial changes were made to the interior of the church during this period including purchase of an organ, installation of stained glass windows, and the beautifully carved walnut communion rail and reredos behind the altar.
During the first half of the 20th century the congregation dwindled and by the 1930’s services were restricted to the summer months. However, with the installation of a modern furnace to replace two wood burning stoves in 1949, church services resumed throughout the year. In the early 1950’s a revitalized congregation restored the old church building. This was followed by construction of a parish hall in 1957. Further additions and renovations to the plant now provide modern facilities with no distortion to the original 1807 church building. In this historic and beloved old structure, an active and caring congregation seek inspiration from the past to deal with the problems of today and the challenges of the future.
For more information about Old St. Andrew’s or to order a copy of The Word in the Wilderness: A History of Old St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church ~ 1740-2000 by Robert McComb, please call 860-242-4660 or send an email to email@example.com