Second Meeting House, Bethel

Second Meeting House, Bethel – Jerry Dougherty

Set in hilly terrain, the town of Bethel in Fairfield County lies near Connecticut’s border with New York. Settled as part of Danbury in 1685, the parish of Bethel, which took its name in 1759 for the Hebrew term meaning “House of God,” incorporated in 1855. Bethel, as part of Danbury, had boasted hat-making factories as early as the late-1700s. The trade remained vital to the town’s economy well into the early 1900s. Today, such firms as Duracell, Inc., and Eaton Corporation, a power management company, call Bethel home. The town is also known as the birthplace of celebrated showman and entrepreneur Phineas Taylor Barnum.

Learn More


“Bethel Historical Society,” 2011. Link.


“Bethel - WPA Architectural Survey.” Connecticut State Library Digital Collections, 2013. Link.
“Finding Aid to the Cole and Ambler Hat Manufacturers Records.” Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries, 2005. Link.
McCarthy, D. “Map of the Boroughs of Danbury and Bethel, Fairfield County, Conn.” Philadelphia, PA: D. McCarthy, n.d. Connecticut Historical Society. Link.
“Print - O. Benedict & Co. Fur Hat Manufacturers, Bethel. ca. 1860s.” Connecticut Historical Society, 2013. Link.
“Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Bethel, Fairfield County, Connecticut.” Library of Congress. Bethel, CT: Sanborn Map Company, 1889. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division. Link.


Goodsell, Lewis, and Goodsell, Laura, eds. A History of Bethel, 1759-1976: A Commemorative Book. Bethel,  CT: Bethel Historical Society and Bicentennial Commission, 1976.
Wild, Patrick. Bethel. Dover,  NH: Arcadia, 1996.
Wild, Patrick Tierney. Historic Tales of Bethel, Connecticut. Charleston, SC: History Press, 2011.
Cothren, William. History of Ancient Woodbury, Connecticut, from the First Indian Dead in 1659. Waterbury, CT: Bronson Brothers, 1854. Link.