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Then and Now: St. Mary's Church

The answer from our Then and Now question is, as many people suspected, St. Mary's Church. Here's a short history of the old building.

Since I started following the column (Where in Branford?) here on Branford Patch, I've known Branford residents were smart and knew odd places in the town well. I'm glad to see that knowledge transfers over to our town history! The church pictured two weeks ago in our new "Then and Now" feature is indeed a former incarnation of St. Mary's church. The building next to it? The rectory, which, as noted, was where the nuns lived.

The old photo was taken in 1921; the church itself was rededicated on October 19, 1906 (happy anniversary, old St. Mary's Church). This was the second church building for the St. Mary's Parish: the first, on Montowese, was completed in 1854. The second, larger church was built on Main Street in 1900. Finished in 1904, the church suffered a fire less than a year after it was finished. It was restored by 1906 and used for almost 70 years before fire struck once again.

Many of our readers remember the 1972 fire; noted that it was one of two fires in a two week period, and that the FBI investigated the events. (Nothing was ever found.) According to illustrious Patch editor , Fire Chief 's father was one of the Company 9 volunteers who responded to the scene of the St. Mary's fire. The building was so far destroyed that it could not be restored, and the current St. Mary's church was dedicated in 1974. As noted, the only thing remaining from the old church is the bell, which remains in the church's courtyard.

Do you have a historical photo of somewhere in town and want to challenge readers or do you have a tip for a place we might explore for "Then and Now"? E-mail me at alanajoli@gmail.com. 

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