I had one more series of pictures that I wanted to post from my walk through the Village of Yantic a couple of Wednesdays ago and these shots are of the beautiful granite church that stands on a hill above the Village.
In addition to founding the Yantic Volunteer Fire Company that I wrote about previously, Winslow Williams continued the good works of his father, Captain Erastus Williams, by making sure that the Grace Episcopal Church had land on which to build. The captain, who was a religious man, had insisted that his mill workers attend monthly religious services which were originally held in the village schoolhouse; in 1853 the parish was formally organized and ultimately became Grace Episcopal Church.
Construction began in 1891 on the beautiful building that would become the permanent home of the Grace Episcopal Church and was completed in 1901 - if I'm reading my Roman numerals correctly! - at the cost of $20,000.
The magnificent structure looks like it should be residing in the English countryside as it stands proudly on the hill next Hale Mill. Unlike the beautiful old mill though, the church building is still very much alive and in use to this day.
Rumor has it that the pews inside are all hand-carved and that there's also a beautiful pipe organ which is reputed to be one of the finest in Eastern Connecticut. The pulpit was dedicated to the memory of Captain Erastus Williams with the lectern left in memory of his wife, Lydia - the woman for whom the Village of Yantic was built.
While I was taking pictures of the church I had the pleasure of talking to one of its parishioners who happened to be taking care of a couple of tasks around the church. Fred, as his jacket read, asked me if his car was in my way of the pictures but I assured him that it wasn't - however the sun was!
Fred, as it turned out, was 98 years young and had been attending Grace Episcopal Church for 64 years! He told me that he used to live in the village but had moved to a different part of Yantic where he had lived with his wife until he had to place her in a nursing home due to her advanced Alzheimers in 2000. It was easy to see that it hadn't been an easy decision for Fred but as he said, it was dangerous for her to be at home with the stairs and his own advancing years.
We talked a bit about how much the world had changed over the years and I told him that knowing how much it had changed during my 51 years, I could only imagine how much it had changed over the course of his 98. As we looked over the village from our vantage point on the hill, he told me how there used to be a beautiful mansion across the bridge and how the mill used to bustle with workers and activity but those days were long gone.
I wish I'd had more time to talk to Fred or that I had been smart enough to ask him to perhaps give me a glimpse inside the beautiful church but unfortunately, I didn't think about it until much too late and he'd gone on his way. Maybe someday if I'm back in Yantic to mail a letter at the cute little post office, I'll have the chance to see him again. He'll be easy to spot, he's the handsome older gentleman wearing the World War II Veterans hat and a jacket with his name embroidered over his heart that has beat for 98 years.
In conclusion, Napoleon has been quoted as saying "History paints the human heart" and I've got to agree with him though I might have changed it up a bit on my Wednesday walk to say that history paints the Village of Yantic - and paints it very well.
Hmm ... where to take a walk next?