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Click here for a larger view of the Davenport window

Click here to learn more about the history of Center Church



While the Crypt may be the most famous aspect of Center Church's building, we are also blessed with a wide array of beautiful architectural accents, including a Waterford crystal chandelier, a Fisk Pipe Organ, Tiffany stained glass windows, and an impressive collection of silver items.

Click here to view the video "Saga of the Silver", which details some of the history of the church and it's silver collection.

The Fisk pipe organ

Located above the congregation and in the rear of the church, this massive and elegant pipe organ fills the air with beautiful music every week. Built in 1971 by Charles Fisk of Gloucester, Massachusettes, this organ includes mechanical key and stop (tracker) action, and pipes that include huge 16 foot bourdon stops.

The Fisk pipe organ

The Fisk organ is the third to be placd in the church. In 1855 a Hutchinson organ was installed - it required not only an organist to play it, but also someone to pump it. This was the instrument played on by Charles Ives, the American composer, when he was full-time organist of Center Church during his undergraduate years at Yale. It was supplanted in 1913 by an Austin organ, the gift of the Farnam family. The current Fisk uses some of the pipes from the previous Austin organ.

Visit our music section to see more pictures of the Fisk organ, or click here to visit the C.B. Fisk website for some additional technical information.


The Waterford crystal chandelier

A large Waterford crystal and pewter chandelier provides a warm glow that lights the sanctuary.


The Tiffany "Davenport" Window

Click here for a larger view of the Davenport window

This stained glass window was designed by Joseph Lauber at Tiffany Studios (New York), and depicts the first Sunday worship for New Haven's settlers in the wilderness of the Quinnipiack territory.

On that first Sabbath on April 25, 1638, the Puritan settlers gathered beneath an oak tree (near where today is the corner of College and George Streets).

The Reverend John Davenport preached on the text "Then Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness", and it was believed that in the midst of the Long Island Sound wilderness, they were forming a new Jerusalem.

The following year (1639), the 2 church-settlements of New Haven and Milford were formed. Click here for a larger view.


Some Historical Highlights:

Center Church and New Haven were founded in 1638 by the Rev. John Davenport and Theophilus Eaton, who came from Boston with a group of Puritans in order to settle here.

This building is the fourth church of this society built on the Green since 1638. This structure was designed and built by Ithiel Towne in 1812-1814.

This Center Church organization is over 365 years old and has witnessed all of the historical events throughout America's history.

The famous Tiffany window over the pulpit contains 2,320 separate pieces of glass. In 1893, this window cost $10,000.

The original cost of this church was $34,323

Eli Whitney occupied pew #63 and Henry Farnum, builder of the Farmington Canal (which is now a linear park), occupied pew #67.

President Rutherford Hayes visited the church in 1880 and also visited the gravesites of his relatives, who are buried in the crypt.

President Monroe worshipped here on a June Sunday in 1817.

Daniel Webster addressed a large audience from the pulpit on contemporary p[olitics in 1837.

This church, like many other New England churches, is called a "meeting house". In the early days, the churches were the only buildings large enough to hold great numbers of people. As a result, social and political events were held in the churches. Because of this, Center Church has attracted many outstanding personages to visit and speak on many issues.


Further Reading

More information on Center Church's history and architecture can be found here, in the Bicentennial Publication of the church.



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The ariel photograph of the New Haven Green is used by permission from T. P. Benincas, Jr.: