HISTORY OF ST. FRANCIS PARISH
The Historic Church building was erected in 1834 by the Universalist Society, which had been meeting in Long Ridge Village since 1776. Classic revival architecture was popular, hence, its Greek temple-style façade with four columns, a full entablature and pediment above.
By 1942, the Universalists no longer flourished in Long Ridge Village, and their church had been unused for years. It was wartime. Gasoline was being rationed and it was difficult for the people in Long Ridge Village to drive the 20-mile round trip to St. John’s Episcopal Church in Stamford each week. Mrs. Harlan Logan spoke to the Rev. Stanley Hemsley of St. John’s about the problem. He visited the State Universalist Society in Danbury which granted him permission to temporarily use the building on Old Long Ridge Road.
In 1945, two sisters, Mrs. Howard Gilmour and Mrs. Lucie Newton, bought the church property from the Universalist Society and gave it to the Episcopal Church, Diocese of Connecticut. Meanwhile, 25 people signed a petition to the bishop coadjutor, for permission to establish a mission in Long Ridge. The first Episcopal service was held on Christmas Eve, 1945.
The Mission of St. Francis eventually became St. Francis Church. The rear wall was extended in 1984 for installation of a restroom and enlargement of the sacristy - the classic, pillared facade and nave were preserved. The St. Francis community grew necessitating additional buildings. The property on Long Ridge Road was acquired in the 1960s and the Rev. Robert Dresser oversaw the building of Assisi Hall on Long Ridge Road in 1968, with an ambitious vision of a new church building.
In 1978, the Rev. Richard Mayberry arrived to serve as rector, and remained in that role until his retirement in 2007. His tenure saw the building of the new church (dedicated in 2001) through the talents and gifts of the St. Francis community.
Since music played an important role, the new church was designed for acoustic excellence. A committee was formed to raise the funds for a pipe organ. Kolzelman Pipe Organs was hired to build a customized electric action pipe organ which was dedicated in October 2008. Since then, numerous services and concerts have been held. Guest performers marvel at the acoustics, confirming that it is indeed a well-designed space!