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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... Read More...

 
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...

1970s??: Local Access Telecasts

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Speak with Dannie Brown. Read More...

2004: Millennial Modernization

The new millennium brought many changes to the church building. The steeple was structurally repaired in 1998. The Allen Room was completely redecorated and refurnished at that time; a new Church Library was added to the room the following year. Restroom facilities were expanded in 2000. A new, lighted church sign was erected at the corner of the building.

 

One particularly noteworthy addition during this time frame still graces Fifth Street, directly across from Lafayette Park. In 2003, the Labyrinth and Memorial Garden were constructed for the mindful participation of the congregation and our greater community. Dedication services were performed in May of that year.

 

Then in 2004, a major renovation was undertaken to update the church and manse, and bring both aging structures up to modern building standards. This involved both practical and esthetic changes, and included several modifications for handicap accessibility. The project was started on the first day of the year, and astonishingly, completed by Mothers Day.

New, solid oak entry doors were created to accommodate existing stained glass panels. A wheelchair ramp was added to the Sixth Street entrance, and the full suite of matching entry and passage doors were installed. Multiple layers of new, decorative and structural wood moulding were added, encircling all windows, doors, and the choir loft. Beaver board was replaced with drywall and new wainscotting in the narthex and sanctuary; new flooring was installed throughout. The pews were removed and refinished, and cut down to facilitate wheelchair access.
 

Sanctuary in the 1970s
Sanctuary in the New Millenium

 

The entire sanctuary, choir area, classrooms and narthex (vestibule) were gutted, reworked and repainted. The sanctuary was filled with floor-to-ceiling scaffolding; the existing stained glass windows, alter, organ and pipes were protected with custom shrouds; and worship was held downstairs in the Fellowship Hall as work was underway.

Brand new electrical wiring and a modern sound system were added, with speakers throughout the sanctuary; all this was driven by a state-of-the-art soundboard capable of amplification for personal hearing assistance. Additional retro-inspired lighting was installed throughout the sanctuary, choir loft, hallways and narthex. Before this renovation, there were no central chandeliers in the sanctuary; only wall sconces whose light could barely reach the central pews.

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2018: Our Bicentennial Celebration

In 2018, our newly installed pastor, the Reverend Cara S. Milne, created a small group of dedicated workers to organize an exciting Bicentennial gathering of new and former ministers, members and congregants. 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