Golden Hill United Methodist Church
Sunday, September 24, 2017
An Open and Affirming Congregation

Brief History

Brief History
of the Golden Hill Congregation                                                           
 

Although the First Methodist Society in Bridgeport was organized in 1817, its church building was not opened until 1823. This wooden structure, standing at the crossroads of two major downtown arteries, burned in 1849, being replaced by a brick building that served the needs of the community for nearly 80 years.

In the 1920's this building was deemed unfit for continuing occupancy, so plans were laid for a new edifice to be built on Golden Hill, overlooking the city. Two weeks before the Great Depression, this beautiful gothic structure , containing more than 50 rooms, was dedicated. To meet construction costs, great sacrifices were made and fundraising efforts abounded. Help came from many sources - one of them being Sylvanus Locke, designer of the Locke lawnmowers, who contributed $25,000. In response to his generosity, the social hall was named Locke Hall.

Prior to 1970 Bridgeport had several Methodist churches, but declining membership in the neighborhoods made it prudent that year to merge some of these with First Methodist Church on top of Golden Hill. This name was then changed to Golden Hill United Methodist Church . One of these merged churches was the Washington Park Methodist Episcopal Church, founded in 1853 and built on land donated by P.T. Barnum and General Noble. Another church was Trinity Methodist that began as a mission in the 1870's and served the people in the North End of the city for nearly 100 years.

The final merger was that of Newfield Methodist in 1982. This church began with prayer meetings being held in residents' homes. Needing more room, a chapel was built in 1872, and finally a church in 1906. Four years later a fire destroyed the church, and immediately plans were made for a new building, helped along financially by a generous gift from Andrew Carnegie.

Prominent among the people associated with the churches now known as Golden Hill United Methodist was Fanny Crosby, writer of over 8000 hymns. She made Bridgeport her home in her final years and (the then) First Methodist her church. Her funeral here in 1915 was the largest to date with the possible exception of P.T. Barnum's. Found among the baptismal records of the old Newfield church was that of Robert Mitchum, the late motion picture actor.

Golden Hill United Methodist Church is a vigorous downtown, metropolitan church which will continue to be enriched well into the 21st century by its members' racial, ethnic, educational and economic backgrounds.