After The Fire

Yesterday afternoon — a glorious fall Sunday — a woman stood in Colonial Green. She was taking photos of Saugatuck Congregational Church, across the street.

And why not?

It’s a magnificent building — as beautiful and iconic as any New England church should be.  It’s the perfect image of Westport — even if it’s been there, on the corner of the Post Road and Myrtle Avenue, since “only” 1950.

(Fun fact:  That year, the church was moved — very slowly, on a bed of logs — from its spot across US1 a few hundred yards away, where the Sunoco station now stands.  Life Magazine covered the event.)

More importantly, for nearly 180 years the Saugatuck Church has played a vital role in the life of our entire town.  More than 50 different 12-step groups meet daily there.  The church hosts a thriving nursery school, and many other community groups.

A fire last night destroyed part of the magnificent structure — thankfully (if one can say that) the back, not the sanctuary or steeple.

But the fire came at a particularly bad time.  On Thursday, 300 diners would have relished the traditional Thanksgiving feast.  Next month, the same number would have gathered for a Christmas meal.

Offers have already poured in to cover those 2 events, and provide a place for the AA and other meetings, as well as the nursery school.

The entire town will help the Saugatuck Congregational Church, and its members — just as, for nearly 2 centuries, they have helped all of us.

In the meantime, our prayers are with all congregants, and clergy, of this wonderful church.

17 responses to “After The Fire

  1. This was our church growing up, we attended Sunday School for many years in area below where the fire was. I attended, along with my entire kindergarten (Saugatuck Elementary) class, our teacher, Miss Behr’s (sp?) wedding there, my very first wedding. Later I trained and volunteered at the original “Hot Line” suicide prevention phone bank there.
    So sad to see the picture of the fire, but I know the residents of Westport will do everything they can to restore this beautiful structure to it’s former glory!

    • John Clarendon

      I got my start in social services at Open Line in the early 70’s when it was in the basement of the YMCA. Later, when it was at the church I had a chance do be the director for about a year, then passing it on, I believe, to Sara Pond. Today I’m a licensed mental health counselor working in a prison and a drug treatment program on Cape Cod but always remember those days fondly. I don’t remember the minister’s name at the time but remember he was a great, generous guy,

  2. No doubt, Westport community’s spirit will kick into high gear and result in a happy ending to this sad event.

  3. SCC is a family. Thanks for setting the right tone with this story.

  4. Dennis Jackson

    Am not terribly religious, but growing up in town this beautiful church was ours, and thus the spiritual center of Westport. It was the place of Sunday School, Bible stories, Christmas pageants, Pilgrim Fellowship, then Officiant at our wedding, and venue of services of remembrance for both parents.

    Hopefully they will soon let us all all know how we can help.

  5. The Dude Abides

    Saugatuck Congregational Church has been at the forefront of compassion for this entire town for close to 50 years that I have been associated with it. It is a shame that fire may have damaged an enjoyable holiday meal attended by hundreds. Any idea of what they are going to do????

    • Wonderful Christ & Holy Trinity is hosting it. Yes, together our town will pull together to help Saugatuck Church. And some prayers (or good wishes or healing thoughts) from all 06880 readers would help.

  6. Our fire fighters kick ass.

    • Tell that to the Christopher woman who died after it took 20 minutes to respond to a fire call in Greens Farms.

  7. We are immensely grateful for the Westport firefighters and all the neighboring towns that sent help. More often than not, these type of fires result in a complete loss of the church, and yet Saugatuck still stands. As the head of our Trustees Board said, “We are devastated, but we are still here.”
    The Thanksgiving Feast will go on at Christ & Holy Trinity Church around the corner, Thanksgiving Day at 1:00PM.
    There will also be a Prayer Service – “Prayers of Hope” – on the front lawn at 7:30 tonight. Park in Playhouse Square and bring a flashlight. Everyone is welcome!

  8. Having been a part of the Saugatuck Congregational Church since 1954 (baptised there, so many Sundays of Sunday School with teachers with truly had the “patience of saints,” confirmed there,so many happy Sunday nights spent at “PF” durin the turbulent times of Jr. high and high school, married there, taugh Sunday School myself there, sang in the choir for eons, funeral /memorial services for my grandmother / parents there ~ seeing the devestation to this wonderful building / community just breaks my heart.

    if there’s a blessing in all of this, it is that there were no injuries, which might not have been the case on any weekday or any week night.

    It just makes me want to cry.

  9. Carl Addison Swanson

    I am sure the Church will rebound with as much strength as it has given so many over the decades.

  10. i was happily married in this church 14 years ago and happy to say I have remained that way since. It has good karma with thousands of people healing there every week. Please help to rebuild this special place

  11. Jeff Van Gelder

    John, it certainly was Ted! And it was John who was our contact (and the person who did a great job!) at the Youth-Adult Council which helped us put on the coffee house every weekend in the SCC.

  12. We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and offers of help from the community. If you would like to help financially, you may go to The Connecticut conference of the United Church of Christ has set up a Saugatuck Fire Fund for the church