A Brief History of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church

  • Organized 1853
  • Erected on Main Street 1857
  • Moved to Putney Road and Bradley Avenue 1953
  • Rectory built 1953
  • Bradley-Aldis wing added 1962

The history of St. Michael’s begins with the construction and consecration
in 1817 of Christ Church in Guilford, the first Episcopal Church in Vermont.
At that time Guilford was the largest town in this corner of the state and had
been the center of political and commercial activity. However, Brattleboro was
already growing while Guilford was declining. As early as 1835 a group known as
the Episcopal Society of St. Peter’s was meeting in Brattleboro. Arrival of the
railroad in 1849 secured Brattleboro’s dominance as population center for this
area, and soon thereafter a group of residents sought to establish an Episcopal
church in Brattleboro.

In July 1853, John Henry Hopkins, first Episcopal Bishop of Vermont, visited
Brattleboro and expressed his hope for the official establishment of a new
church. This hope was fulfilled in September 1853 when a group of eight men met
to organize “The Parish of St. Michael’s Church Brattleboro.” A group of women
had earlier formed “The Episcopal Female Sewing Society, Brattleboro” to support
a new church. Other people who helped financially were summer residents and
visitors at the Brattleboro Water Cures.

Almost immediately there began a movement to construct a church building.
This involved fundraising with the goal of $5,000, which was quickly exceeded,
and land on Main Street was purchased where Key Bank is located in 2012. Plans
for the new church were provided without charge by New York City architect
Joseph Coleman Hart, an advocate of Gothic style for churches. For St. Michael’s
he designed a small parish church building in the English Tudor style with exposed
chestnut beams and red brick. The first services were held in the new building
in July 1858, and it was consecrated in 1863 by Bishop Hopkins.

The ensuing 100 years were typical for a small parish with a succession
of rectors and financial challenges. As Brattleboro was growing and changing,
the downtown location became difficult to maintain and had no space for expansion.
At the same time its value for commercial development was increasing. In 1953
the Main Street lot was sold, a new lot was purchased, and the building was
moved up Main Street and Putney Road to its present location on Bradley Avenue.
The new rectory next to the church was built in 1953, and in 1962 the Bradley-Aldis
Memorial Building was added.

Now in 2012 St. Michael’s is involved in still another important chapter in the history of our church with major renovations to its facilities and the addition of a chapel.

— John Carnahan

Those interested in more detail are referred to The History of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church,  Brattleboro, Vermont 1853-1978 by Paul A. Carnahan (1982)