Permanent site needed for historic First United Church replica

The mini replica of the First United Church of Christ sits downtown, in front of the actual church.

The mini replica of the First United Church of Christ’s first meetinghouse sits downtown, in front of the actual church.

According to the Rev. Adam Eckhart of the First United Church of Christ Congregational, the very first meetinghouse was established in Milford around 1640.

The colonists came together in this 40-foot square building, which had plain decorations because of the Puritan views. This meetinghouse was torn down in the 18th century due to its small size. A second one was built later, and had a balcony for slaves to join in the masses. This one was torn down as well because it was structurally unsound.

The First United Church of Christ Congregational that sits today in downtown Milford, across from the Parsons Complex and the City Hall duck pond, is the third meetinghouse and was built in the 1800s. Eckhart has been at this church for almost 13 years. He and church members decided to create a model in the form of a float of the first meetinghouse, to coincide with the city’s 375th anniversary.

The detailed work can be seen in the steeple of the replica, as well as in the closeup photo of the mini-church below.

The detailed work can be seen in the steeple of the replica, as well as in the front of the mini-meetinghouse in the picture below.

Eckhart was the coordinator of volunteers for those who were willing to help build it. Chuck Roy, a self-employed contractor and member of the church for over a decade, led the group of volunteers in constructing it.

“Chuck and I listed drawings of the meetinghouse based on drawings that we found in a Milford historical book,” said Eckhart.

A rigorous building process followed, taking two and a half months; it was made in Roy’s garage.

“I consider it a museum-qualified piece,” Roy said. “We made individual roofing shingles with hot glue guns. There are over 5,000 [shingles].”

People who know Roy’s work describe him as a very talented contractor who loves his job. He’s a regular at local historic functions. For example, residents may have seen him constructing a building replica with the Milford Historical Society at this year’s, and last year’s, Annual Milford Oyster Festival.

“I have been in this profession for almost 20 years,” Roy said. “I enjoy building and creating.”

Due to Roy’s love for building, and Eckhart’s love of the model, the reverend decided to put it in the Founder’s Day Parade in honor of Milford’s 375th anniversary. The church members won “Best Float” and enjoyed their day dressed up in apparel worn by the colonists.

Eckhart is very proud of the trophy that he and his helpers received. It is currently in a protected area of the church, and Eckhart plans on asking Roy to build a case for it.

Although the model in front of the church attracts many curious looks, Roy does not plan on leaving it there permanently. He would like to put it in the middle of the Parsons Complex property, or somewhere else to keep it safe.

A closeup of the front of the church replica.

A closeup of the front of the meetinghouse replica.

“I hope we can find a home for it. I don’t want it [outside] all the time. Maybe we will find a school or museum for it,” he said.

The model has become a symbol of the church, the success of the workers, and a memorable day at the parade where they received tremendous appreciation.

“It was a great celebration for us,” Eckhart said. “I think few people in Milford know that those who founded Milford founded the church. All the different generations were [at the parade] celebrating our anniversary and coming together as a community.”

People with ideas for permanently displaying the model are welcome to contact Eckhart at the church, 203-877-4277.

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