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Orange History:  The Zion Lutheran Church

Orange History:  The Zion Lutheran Church

You may have driven past Zion Lutheran Church on Grassy Hill Road and wondered about this mid-century building set back on the wooded slope.  If you drove past the church this fall, you likely saw the parking lot filled with the vehicles of artists, wood workers, and roofers, working to restore the church after a severe rainstorm flooded the building in August.

Designed by Carl R. Blanchard, Jr. (1912-1996), the original masterplan was ambitious and included a large church, chapel and arcade of Sunday school classrooms and offices.  Only the chapel was constructed.  The building was designed for Calvary Baptist Church in 1966 whose congregation moved from Chapel Street in New Haven.  Eventually, Calvary Baptist Church sold its new building in Orange to Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Blanchard was a New Haven native who studied architecture at Pratt Institute and returned to Connecticut to practice.  After establishing his own office, he built his impressive resumé of buildings, including Holy Transfiguration Church in New Haven and Shepherd of the Sea Chapel in Groton.  He also collaborated with local architects on several projects, including Katharine Brennan School in New Haven.

Zion Lutheran Church is enclosed by a slanted roof that creates a dramatic interior space of braced wooden beams.  The low windows allow light to filter in and illuminate the natural wood.  The altar is flanked by stained glass windows depicting the Four Evangelists, Jesus’ birth at Christmas, His resurrection at Easter, and the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion.

Following the flood, artists worked diligently to remove the marks of water damage.  After months of restoration, the natural beauty of the church is ready to be appreciated.

Our service times are Saturdays at 5:00 pm, and Sundays at 10:30 am, with Christian Education for all ages at 9:30 am on Sundays.  More information can be found at www.zion-orange.com or by emailing Pastor Jacob Benson at pastor@zion-orange.com.

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