This small, difficult to find marker stands along Route 202 between the ABC Music Shop and the Tapping Reeve Condominiums. It marks the first location of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church.
The church was founded in November 1745 at a meeting of the heads of thirteen Litchfield families. While the numbers of Episcopalians in colonial Connecticut paled in comparison to the number of Congregationalists, Litchfield’s families were fortunate to have a strong leader in John Davies. Davies, who had been born in England, donated money to build the church and leased the land on which the first church stood. The terms of the lease between Davies and the Society of the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts called for the parish to pay Davies one peppercorn annually on the feast of St. Michael the Archangel. Thus, the parish got its name.
The Revolutionary War was a particularly trying time for the church, as parishioners took an oath of loyalty to both the King of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The church closed completely between 1777 and 1780, and American soldiers allegedly threw stones at the structure as they passed through Litchfield until they were stopped by George Washington, himself an Episcopalian. Approximately 20% of Connecticut’s Episcopalians fled to Canada as a result of the war.
In 1784, the Connecticut General Assembly officially recognized the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Society of Litchfield was organized. Further stability came the following year when Rev. Ashbel Baldwin was installed at the pulpit in Litchfield.
These developments, coupled with the cessation of Episcopalian loyalty to the King, led to the need for a larger church. This resulted in the parish’s move to South Street, the site where the current church built between 1918 and 1920 still stands.