Cultural Heritage Tours

A project of the ETHNIC HERITAGE CENTER

Lower Dixwell Tour

Dixwell Congregational Church, United Church of Christ

217 Dixwell Avenue

(former)

Former Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church, 100 Dixwell Avenue, c. 1960. Courtesy New Haven Museum.

The Dixwell Congregational Church was founded in 1820 as the African Ecclesiastical Society by Black congregants who, together with abolitionist Simeon S. Jocelyn, withdrew from the Center Congregational Church because of discrimination. It is the oldest African American UCC Church in the world. The original membership included 24 women and 4 men. The Society met at various homes until purchasing a building on Temple Street between George and Crown in 1824. In 1829 the congregation received formal recognition as the Temple Street Congregational Church.

The Church’s first Black pastor was the well-known “fugitive blacksmith,” Rev. James W.C. Pennington (1834–1839). He was succeeded by Amos G. Beman, who led the congregation until 1858. He was followed in 1881 by the Rev. Albert P. Miller, its pastor for 15 years.

In 1886 the Church moved to 100 Dixwell Avenue, where it developed numerous community programs under the Rev. Edward Goin (1902–1942). In 1967/68, under the leadership of the Rev. Edwin Edmonds (1959–1994), the Church was rebuilt at 217 Dixwell Avenue. The new Church is an example of the type of buildings constructed in the Dixwell neighborhood during the 1960s, or the “Model City” era. The architect for the new church was the noted John Johanson, FAIA. Throughout its history, the Dixwell Avenue Congregational Church has been at the forefront in the struggle for human rights, civil rights, and justice. The Reverend Dr. Frederick J. (Jerry) Streets is currently the Senior Pastor.

  • Text source courtesy Greater New Haven African American Historical Society.

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