The History of the Church of the Epiphany by Mrs. Howard B. Field and the History of Durham by Professor William Chancey Fowler both indicate that a Protestant Episcopal Church was organized in Durham as early as 1802. Mrs. Field wrote: "The church apparently was a member of the Diocese, having sent lay delegates to the 1804, 1805, 1806, 1809 and 1819 conventions." In 1818, the church joined with Middletown and Berlin to form a "cure." The members, having no church building, sustained their faith by "banding together in their several homes on Sundays."
In the mid-1800's, services were held in what has more recently been known as the Pythian Building on Main Street. In late 1861, when that building became unavailable, two young men, Andrew Morse and Frank Goodwin, set out to raise funds to construct a church at our present location. Mrs. Field notes: "... at great personal sacrifice they canvassed not only this community but Middletown, Meriden, Hartford, Wallingford, Norwich, Guilford and many other places." In just a few months, they apparently raised over a thousand dollars (a huge sum of money in those days). Land was purchased in May,1862, ground was broken, and the cornerstone was laid on June 28, 1862. Sadly, Mr. Morse apparently passed away during construction; the window we still see above the altar was installed as a memorial to him. On January 28, 1863, the church was consecrated. Mrs. Field noted that the total cost was $2,403.56, "which paid for the completed Church with furnishing, etc."
Timeline - Changing Face of Epiphany
1877 The church was raised 1.2 feet and placed on a new foundation. The tower was constructed, and the bell was installed. (It rang for the first time on Christmas Eve,1877.)
1877-1913 Plain windows on the sides of the church were gradually changed to stained glass memorial windows through the generosity of church members.
1880 The window at the back of the church was installed for Epiphany Day. It was called the "Children's Window" because the children of the church donated all the funds.
1882 A porch at what is still the main entrance was moved to become the present sacristy, adjacent to the current Bishop Williams Room.
1892 The transept was constructed for our beautiful pipe organ, which was purchased for $1500 -- all donated by "The Ladies Society" and three members of the vestry.
The first parish hall was dedicated on June 20, 1905. The main room of the building was named "The Bishop Williams Room," and was subsequently refurbished in 1991.
1930's & 1940's Reverend George Gilbert, rector of the Church of the Epiphany, created a legacy of pastoral care which included providing meals for people in need. To learn more about Father Gilbert, click the menu tab on the left side of the page.
1941 New altar hangings and communion linens were acquired, and other improvements were undertaken.
1961 The new parish hall was dedicated on March 7.
1971 Parish Hall main room was dedicated in honor of Lincoln Frye, rector from 1953 to 1965.
During the 1970's, the parish built the vicarage on Maple Avenue. In 1980, the Church of the Epiphany joined with several other Episcopal churches to form the Middlesex Area Cluster Ministry. During the 1980's, the building committee planned and oversaw restoration and renovation work on the church, including improved accessibility. A capital fund drive permitted completion and rededication in December, 1991. We repainted the church in 2001 and raised funds to replace our roof and restore its original Victorian design. In 2007, the Church of the Epiphany moved to leave the Middlesex Cluster Ministry and strike out on its own. In 2014, the hall was made handicap accessible with a ramp leading up to a deck and the bathroom was modified to accomodate a wheelchair.
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