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. It was built at a time when classic revival architecture was very popular, hence, its Greek temple-style façade building with four columns and a full entablature with pediment above.
By 1942, the Universalists no longer flourished in Long Ridge Village, and their church building had been unused for years. It was wartime, and gasoline rationing was in effect, making it difficult for the people in Long Ridge Village who attended St. John’s Episcopal Church in Stamford to drive the nearly 20-mile round trip each week. Mrs. Harlan Logan spoke to the Rev. Stanley Hemsley of St. John’s about this problem, and 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. Though 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 continued to grow, and the needs of a growing congregation necessitated 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.
Three decades later 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 through the talents and gifts of the St. Francis community.
It was decided that the new church had to be designed for acoustic excellence because music has always been important to the parishioners of St. Francis. . An organ committee was formed in 2000 to raise the necessary funds for the purchase and installation of a pipe organ. The committee reached its goal in 2005. Kolzelman Pipe Organs was hired to build a customized electric action pipe organ which was dedicated in October 2008.