The Circular History of Our Parsonage

Next to our church stands our parsonage.  This two-storey white house is 178 years old, built in 1830 in graceful Greek Revival style by our first “settled” (living here, full-time) minister, Rev. Burr Baldwin.  The parsonage left us, was owned by the future mayor of Chicago, and then returned to us, bequeathed by an invalid, Panthea Hopkins, on March 12, 1895.  A small book on New Hartford history, Sketches of the People and Places of New Hartford in the Past and Present,published in 1895 by Sarah Lucia Jones, reveals its early history:

Rev. Baldwin built the parsonage on land purchased from Henry Seymour.  (The Seymours were one of the 20 founding families of New Hartford and founding members of this church.)  But his successor, Rev. Willis Lord, wanted a larger home, so Rev. Baldwin sold the parsonage to ambitious, young Thomas Dyer in 1835.

Parsonage - 1910

Dyer was then engaged in selling clocks (cutting-edge technology in 1835).  He made some improvements on the place, added “blinds” (shutters) and a portico.  In 1842, he sold the house to Mrs. Uriah Hopkins and her two daughters, the mother and sisters of his wife.  He moved to Chicago, where he was later elected mayor from 1856 to 1857.  At that time mayors were limited to one-year terms.

For fifty-three years our parsonage was home to the two sisters.  Mrs. Hopkins died in the house in 1863.  In July, 1895, the elder daughter, Miss Chloe Hopkins, died at the age of 89 years, “after a life of remarkable activity and vigor to its very close, leaving her invalid sister the last survivor of the family”.

Sunday School Teachers 1918

On researching the parsonage for his survey of our church property, Marty Post found that Miss Panthea lived 15 years beyond her sister and upon her death the parsonage became ours again on January 10, 1910.  It has sometimes served as the parsonage and other times as the Sunday School.  The last minister who lived in our parsonage was Rev. Doretta Clark, serving from 1994 to 1999.  In 2013 we did extensive renovations and Pleasant Valley Children’s Center, a non-profit daycare, now leases the downstairs portion.

Town Hill CHurch Stabbed 1912

Rev. Burr Baldwin (1789-1880) served our church from 1830 to 1834.  He was born in Easton, CT, the eldest of 12 children, and attended the Staples Academy (now the fellowship house for Easton Congregational Church).  The Burr family were influential founders of Easton.  His mother was “a Burr”; hence his odd first name.  He graduated from Yale in 1809 and, after almost dying from dyspepsia in 1812, recovered to graduate from Andover Theological Seminary in 1814.  He held various missionary positions, teaching “destitute congregations” and “religious training of colored youth” from Ohio to New Jersey, until his calling to our church.

Donna Howard, Church Historian