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Our History

Contents
1818: Our Foundation and the Church Building

Our congregation first met on September 8, 1818, when group of five men and eleven women met in a barn on the farm of Captain John Diven, a veteran of the Revolutionary War. As the largest building in the neighborhood, it was the perfect place to organize a new church society. Known as the First Presbyterian Church of Reading, the first church services saw thirteen of the charter members' children baptized.

 

The area was sparsely populated, and over the next 15 years services were held irregularly in the homes of its members, the school house, and the barn where it was organized. The pioneer church had ten different ministers over this short time.

 

 

The first church building was constructed in 1833 in Savoy, now North Monroe Street between Cross and Partition. The building was sold to the Catholic Society in 1847, when a larger structure was completed at the corner of Fifth and Decatur. The tower in this new building contained the first bell ever to have rung in the Village of Jefferson (as Watkins Glen was then named). On September 28, 1847, the first regular pastor of the church was installed at this location.

 

Church Building circa 1847
Church Building circa 1818

Two additional pastors took over the ministry there before construction began on the current structure. Surprisingly, the building exists today due to the beneficence of a single person. In 1867, the Honorable John Magee purchased the property upon which the church now stands, and also provided sufficient funds to build the entire structure.

 

The cornerstone was laid on April 11, 1867, and construction was completed in time for dedication services on May 14, 1868. Sadly, the first regular service to be held in the new building was the funeral of our benefactor, Mr. Magee, who passed away the previous month.

 

Church Building dedicated in 1868
the Manse built in 1874

 

That same year the former church building was moved across the village and used as the public school house until it burned in 1898.

 

The Manse was built in its place in 1874.

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1918: Our Centennial Celebration

Our centennial celebration was observed over the weekend of September 7-8, 1918. Read More...

1965: Stained Glass Windows

In 1965, new windows were installed in the sanctuary, as well as the rest of the church. Read More...

 
1968: Remodeling for Our Sesquicentennial

During the 29-year pastorate of Rev. William J. Cartmell, our building expanded to better serve our community. Read More...

 
2018: Our Bicentennial Celebration

In 2018, our newly installed pastor, the Reverend Cara S. Milne, created a small group of dedicated workers to organize a gathering... Read More...

Ongoing: Charitable Programs

As we continue to maintain, repair and refurbish our beautiful Romanesque building, of course, we are ever mindful of the fact that the true Church is the body of believers, and not just a piece of architecture. Read More...

Additional Resources

Much of this information was taken from "A Brief History: United Presbyterian Church of Watkins Glen, N.Y." by Abigail O'Daniels, dtd. October 20, 1968. (Get PDF Reader)

 

For additional information about the history of the Presbyterian Church in the United States, please refer to extensive resources available at "Presbyterian Historical Society: The National Archives of the PC(USA)."

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Pastors Through the Years
Sixth & Decatur (1868-Present)

2017 Rev. Cara S. Milne

2016 Rev. Cynthia A. Weaver *

2015 Rev. Nancy Meehan Yao *

1997 Rev. Beverly Karr-Lyon †

1996 Rev. Thomas C. Montgomery *

1987 Rev. W. David Ashby
1985 Rev. William R. Knox *
1969 Rev. Clark N. McKinney
1939 Rev. William J. Cartmell
1934 Rev. Clayton T. Griswold
1916 Rev. Arthur B. Herr, D.D.
1910 Rev. James Elmer Russell
1905 Rev. Selden L. Haynes
1893 Rev. Louis F. Ruf
1888 Rev. Bryce K. Douglas
1882 Rev. George D. Meigs
1877 Rev. Milton Waldo D.D.
1876 Rev. William Lowrie
1870 Rev. J.S. McNair

* interim pastor

pastor emeritus

 

Fifth & Decatur (1847-1868)

1860 Rev. Franklin S. Howe
1855 Rev. Benjamin Russell
1847 Rev. S.B. Shearer

 

The Savoy Site (1833-1847)

1843 Rev. Samuel Stryker
1838 Rev. Samuel Scott
1836 Rev. Royal West
1835 Rev. Egbert Roosa

 

The Diven Barn (1818-1833)

1832 Rev. Charles Goodrich
1831 Rev. David Harrower
1829 Rev. Richard Williams
1826 Rev. Jabez Chadwick
1826 Rev. Samuel White
1825 Rev. Henry Ford
1822 Rev. Joseph Crawford
1821 Rev. Lyman Barrett
1818 Rev. Samuel Parker
1818 Rev. David Higgins

First Presbyterian
Church of
Watkins Glen

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