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By Carol Griffin
Nestled in the valley beneath the shadows of Newgate Prison in East Granby lies a settlement known as Copper Hill. Many recognize the name as a street or golf course, but few realize that in the 1800s the people of the area considered themselves a community. After all, it had its own schoolhouse, railroad line, corner store, church and post office (Copper Hill, Conn.). Perhaps because of its location it was difficult in the winter for the people to travel to the “other side of the mountain” in Suffield or East Granby and a bit farther to Granby, so the folks of Copper Hill became quite self-sufficient and content in their little corner of the world.
It was in the year 1816 that six people, Seth Griffin, Aristarchus Griffin and Calvin Gillet with their wives, decided it was time to organize a church for the people of the area. Thus was the beginning of the Copper Hill Methodist Church. Members took turns holding services in private homes, and they became part of the Granville, Mass. circuit, sharing a minister with other churches in both states. By 1839 the population of the Copper Hill Church had grown to such size as to warrant their own church building. In the spring of 1839 a meeting was called in the home of Festus Viets in Copper Hill and a committee was appointed. A site was selected, land was purchased and the structure was built.
By the fall of 1839 the meeting house was dedicated; built at a cost of $1,400. The location of the church was about 2 rods north of its present site. It became the center of religious services and social activities including suppers, meetings, church school, bazaars and quilting bees, as it continues to be today.
This year, 2016, is the 200th birthday of the little church. Standing at the corner of Griffin Road and Copper Hill Road, diagonally across from the Copper Hill Country Club, this plain, white-clapboard structure is viewed by many as a historic building. However, it is also an active, thriving church with a Sunday school, women’s group, and missions committee serving parishioners from East Granby, Suffield, Granby and other surrounding towns. Those who have attended the church’s Christmas fairs, bake sales and delicious homemade suppers always come back for more. Sunday services at 9:30 a.m. are a welcoming and friendly experience.
During its 200th birthday, a variety of programs (musical, historical, social) will be held and open to the public. The first of these will be on May 15 at 2 p.m. at the church, located at 27 Copper Hill Rd., East Granby. It will feature Kandie Carle (The Victorian Lady). She will delight the audience with her historic and humorous talk and demonstration of the clothing worn 100 years ago. Dressed in authentic attire, Carle will engage teens and adults alike as she shows just how important fashion was a century ago. Light refreshments will be served. Cost at the door is $10 per person. For further information, please call 860-668-5029.