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Our History

1818: Our Foundation and the Church Building

Our congregation first met on September 8, 1818, when a group of five men and eleven women gathered in a barn... Read More...

1918: Our Centennial Celebration

The most significant change to our church building in the years leading up to our Centennial Celebration was the installation of a new pipe organ in 1917.

Largely financed by a donation from the family of the church building's late benefactor, it replaced an older King organ, shown in this remarkable photo from 1916. The original organ had been in service for nearly 49 years.

The Möller Opus 2269 was constructed expressly for our church sanctuary.

our Sanctuary in 1916


Work was completed on the grand pipe organ in August of 1917. The new instrument was equipped with two full manual keyboards, 30 foot pedals, and 25 stops, controlling a total of 1,553 pipes. These pipes stand from two to 16 feet in height, arrayed in banks of 610 and 793 for the manual keys, and 150 for the foot pedals; with voices ranging from chime and piccolo to brass, woodwind, and orchestral string.

As extolled in an article in the EXPRESS the month of its completion:

"The excellence of this instrument lies in its power and capacity, its purity and richness of tone, its completeness of individual parts and their confirmation as a whole."

Hidden Organ Pipes

The world-class instrument was first demonstrated to a limited audience on August 16 by the organist of Grace Episcopal Church in Elmira. Its installation - mostly in the walls behind the proscenium arch which frames the choir loft - took three months to complete, and became the focal point of a major renovation to the building's interior, which included the newly appointed choir loft itself. Its formal dedication took place on November 17, 1917, with our regular church organist playing traditional hymns.

The following year, our centennial celebration was observed over the weekend of September 7-8. People traveled for miles to both honor the legacy and celebrate the new. The two day celebration included an evening recital by the organist of Cornell University, along with multiple worship services and a community supper.

our Sanctuary circa 1918


According to an article in The Watkins Express:


"It is impossible in making only running notes of these days and evenings doings to enter into details, much as one is tempted to do by the great interest pertaining to all and everything connected with this event..."


The festivities were so well attended that, from the same article, "just such a reunion can never in this generation be expected again."

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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...

1990s: The Broadcast Era

Starting in the mid-1990s and continuing for about a decade, our Sunday worship services were broadcast on network television. Read More...

2004: Millennial Modernization

The new millennium brought many changes to the church building under our new pastor, Rev. Bev's guidance. 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...

2020: COVID Shutdown

With only two years in Watkins Glen, Pastor Cara found herself at the helm of another turning point in our congregation's history; or rather, in all of history! A new strain of coronavirus ravaged the world's population as nothing had in the previous century. 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

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