A thumbnail sketch of the building, renovations and changes of the church 1878-1986.
The “Brick Church” was built during the pastorate of Rev. Jonathan B. Hammond.
Minor changes and improvements were made around the turn of the century. The pipe organ was acquired in 1912 during the pastorate of Rev. Charles Woodley. The organ was brought from Brockport and installed, and in the early part of 1913 was dedicated at a special service.
In 1915, while the Rev. Spencer Bacon Owens was pastor, extensive alterations and improvements were made to the interior of the church at the cost of about $4,000. The church was closed on September 1 for the remainder of the year while the auditorium ceiling was lowered, a balcony installed and the interior remodeled and redecorated. On January 2, 1916 the church was reopened with special services. One of the principle features of the occasion was the presence of the Rev. J.B. Hammond who gave his recollections of his 1878-1891 pastorate and the building of the brick church.
In 1923 while Dr. William J. Hart was pastor, electricity was installed in the church and parsonage, replacing oil and gas lights previously used.
The semi-centennial of the building of the church was observed in 1929 with a series of special events from June 30 through July 7. John J. Hollis, one of the few surviving builders, reminisced on some of the events connected with the building project. His son, Dr. LeRoy F. Hollis, presented a large American flag in his honor. At the close of the observance, the Christian flag was presented in memory of Frank Dudley Corse by his wife Carrie Norton Corse and daughter Ellen C. Potter. Rev. William Oscar Thomas, pastor, was general chairman of the semi-centennial celebration. In May 1969, these flags were both replaced by the families of Mr. and Mrs. William Potter and Dr. and Mrs. Warren L. Hollis in memory of their parents.
In 1936-37 during the pastorate of Rev. Walter S. Dobbie, the sanctuary was redecorated. A new steam heating system was installed, made possible by a legacy from the Polly Wilda estate. About this time the baptismal Font was made by John F. Westcott who presented it in memory of the Rev. A. Johnson Cowles; also, a new pulpit Bible was presented in memory of Mrs. Helen M. Skinkle by H. Louis Wallace.
It was while Rev. Herbert Harrison was our pastor (1940-1950) that the Communion cup receiver was added to the communion rail in memory of Melvin D. Herriman, given by his wife, Anna Salisbury Herriman and daughter, Irene H. Killam. About this time the illuminated Cross was given by Mrs. Anna Jones Bartlett in memory of Benjamin D. Jones and the organ chimes were presented by the Blount family in memory of George R. Blount.
On July 16, 1944, Bishop W. Earl Ledden, Resident Bishop of the Syracuse area officiated at the dedication of the newly electrified and enlarged pipe organ and divided chancel, the gift of the Blount Lumber Company and the Blount-Parker Corporation. This involved extending the 18′ x 6′ arched bay in which the organ stood to about 18′ x 20′, moving the organ back into the new part of the bay to allow room for an organ console, fronted by an altar in the center with choir seats along the left and right sides of the bay facing the center. The choir loft in the left corner of the sanctuary and the “Amen Corner” in the right corner were removed. A new larger platform was built, providing additional seats for the choir, a reading desk on the left and pulpit on the right. In front of the platform a new divided communion rail was built.
Philip J. Coble supervised the construction and the grillwork of the organ and other special woodwork was made by Carl S. Burritt.
At the dedication service it was announced that Mrs. Walter D. Sprague had given $1,000 for equipment to be installed in the tower to amplify music from the organ chimes and also recorded music. This was done in memory of her husband who had served as recording steward more than forty years.
In 1950, during the pastorate of the Rev. Winton H. Halsted, a house on South Main Street was purchased for a parsonage. The former parsonage became the church school building, one of the rooms also being used for the pastor’s office and study. The following year the church dining room and sesisons rooms were decorated. The sanctuary was redecorated in 1953 while the Rev. Leland A. Webster was our pastor.
Realizing the inadequacy of the church school facilities, a building program was started in 1962 during the pastorate of Rev. Richard A. Northrop. Stage One of the program was finished the following year while the Rev. Robert W. Bird was pastor. This included the addition of an office wing at the southeast corner of the church with a chapel in the basement of the wing (now the choir room).
The dining room, kitchen and balcony were remodeled to provide several church school rooms, and the Session room was the basis for a Narthex, choir robing room, two rest rooms and a utility room. A new, larger heating plant was installed and a basement passageway was provided between the new wing and the choir robing room. Total cost of Stage One was about $65,000, part of which was financed by three-year subscriptions, the remainder being derived from available trust funds. Stage Two was postponed indefinitely; this will involve building a fellowship hall with kitchen and some church school classes.
Many improvements to the sanctuary were accomplished in 1967 while the Rev. Ray A. Rowley was the pastor. These included installation of new pews and carpeting; also the sanctuary was painted and the pipe organ cleaned and repaired.
The need for a fellowship hall has been evident since Stage One of the building program was completed in 1963. Conversion of the upper floor dining room and kitchen and balcony space into church school classrooms resulted in the loss of facilities to accomodate large social gatherings such as the Mother-Daughter Banquet and Father-Son Banquets, family night suppers, Christmas parties and other activities that contributed to strengthen the ties of fellowship and loyalty to the church.
In 1976, plans were started toward the building of a Fellowship Hall. At the same time the pipe organ needed extensive rebuilding so the building program was deferred for later action.
In 1978, during the pastor of the Rev. Stanley Tanner, the plans for the Fellowship Hall were again finalized and completed (cost $140,000) with the dedication being in the fall of 1982. At the time of the dedication the main building was completely paid for.
We are now improving the church school program by soundproofing and enlarging the Nursery room. A large window has been installed overlooking the balcony and the worship service will be taped into the nursery. The partition between the balcony and church school rooms and the floor is also being soudproofed, for better use of the rooms.
In the fall of 1985, the slate roof was completely repaired and will be checked yearly for broken slate, etc. which has been damaged through the winter. At this time other repairs were made on the roof and a section of the brick waterproofed. The Trustees have voted to have the rest of the brick on the outside of the church waterpoofed this summer. It will prove less costly to have the rest done at one time, so the Trustees will borrow the money in order to preserve the outside of the church building (pending permission).
Several of our dedicated members are doing the renovation of the Nursery. If and when funds are available, it is hoped that we can repair and paint the other classrooms.
On July 2, 1978, we celebrated our 100th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of the present brick edifice. The original time capsule was badly damaged and a new box replaced it with more mementos sealed within. The cornerstone is now marked with a plaque with the date marked on it. It is on the northeast corner of the fron of the church by the north front steps. Let us pray that the spirit of love and self-denial will give the present and future generations the courage and determination to improve this church building in order that it might fulfill our community’s need for a place of worship and Christian fellowship.
The above information is recorded in the Church’s Book of Memories as well as other records of the Church history.
Persis E. Williamson, April 27, 1986