6. St. John Church

St. John Church
Middletown Heritage Trail Site 6

19 St. John’s Square

mht6.jpgHm. A decent enough church (with secret free 2 hour parking on the side street!). The brochure states, “Irish Immigration; church & cemetery; North End neighborhoods; the old fire station.”

The church’s website states, “The History of Saint John Church – This page is still under construction. Please be patient. Saint John Church has a lot of history and this page will take some time. But the wait will be worth it.” I wonder if I’ll remember to ever go back to update this page? I doubt it.

Fortunately for us, there is a Heritage Trail sign out front… It tells the story of the Irish immigrants who fled their homeland during the Potato Famine in the 1840′s. A large group of them settled in Middletown’s North End and were treated like pariahs by the Protestant English who had settled the town.

The men labored across the river at the Portland quarries and the women were servants to the ruling class. Eventually, St. John was built with donated brownstone in 1852 (I’m guessing Middletown’s first Catholic church) with room for 1000 worshippers.

There is now a school and a cemetery here as well. And one of those wacky ET Buckle Up signs too!

7. Jehosaphat Starr House

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2 responses to “6. St. John Church”

  1. mark given says:

    Dear Writer,

    What’s up with the snark? I am of Irish descent. Yeah the Irish were not well treated upon arrival. Which set of immigrees ever were? The Irish that came over were country people resettled with illness, illiteracy, and absolutely CLUELESS as to knowing how to live in urban settings. No wonder they were frightening! Do you know why they call Police Vans “Paddy Wagons??” Because at their advent of use they were usually transporting the new Irish after their fighting, drunkenness, and other social crimes. It was a TOUGH GO for the new Irish. Very tragic. SOOOOooooo …

    When they could rally around their churches (new) and be served by their priests, nuns, and community, they were proud and finding their way into cultural integration with the dominant culture. Let’s hear it for their churches!!! (And for the Italian, et al also!)

    The Portland Sign: “Come on over.”

    THis was not just a business and social invitation. It was also, in its day, a taunt! Do you want to know more??

  2. Steve says:

    Dear Mark Given,

    Yes. I’d love to know more. I’d also like to know what article you read that contained “snark” and apparently upset you. 90% of the post is quoted from the church’s website, the official Freedom Trail brochure and the sign in front of the church.

    No one here disputes the Irish immigration story and it’s attendant tragedy.

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