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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. Read More...


1965: Stained Glass Windows

In 1965, new windows were installed in the sanctuary, as well as the rest of the church. Ten beautiful Art Glass windows flank the nave, depicting Biblical scenes.

The original church windows were simple, as shown here, installed when the building was constructed in 1868. Each of the nave windows is 24 inches wide and 18 feet high, with a triangular inset joining the top of each gothic arch. Six of the windows have an opening device for ventilation during warm summer Sundays.

Over the years, they had undergone several repairs, including the installation of a new layer of protective glass in the 1950s.

Plain Windows circa 1918


Mr. Lyman Gibbs of Elmira had performed all of these repairs; so when it was discovered that new windows were required, church leaders naturally turned to him first. They commissioned Mr. Gibbs to develop new art windows that would fit into the existing architectural spaces.


He was assisted by Swedish-born artist Ernfred Anderson, who created the inspirational scenes that are central to these designs, as well as the overall layout of each window. Well known as a sculptor and art teacher, Mr. Anderson received his education at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland before moving to America in 1920. Famed for his bronze bust of Mark Twain and reliefs at the Woodlawn Cemetery grave site, Mr. Anderson was also the second director for the Arnot Art Museum in Elmira.

The congregation was so enthused with this project that the windows were entirely paid for by families and individuals, as memorials or gifts, even before completion. These new windows were installed throughout the sanctuary and narthex in 1965, and the dedication ceremony took place on June 5, 1966.

Ten beautiful pairs of Art Glass windows flank the nave, with three more above the balcony, as shown below. Click on a window to see its details: The caption for each photo includes a description of its various art glass motifs; from the Symbol in the triangle at the top of each arch, to the Medallions in the red circles, to the vibrant central scenes, to the Scripture quotations included in the scrolls at the bottom. Dogwood blossoms are also included within diamond shapes on each nave window, above and below each central image, as an enduring message of our hope in the crucifixion and resurrection power of Christ. (Legend has it that the cross itself was made of dogwood.)

Three large Ascension Windows were also installed above the balcony. These windows contain life-sized figures to represent, in the center, Christ Triumphant and Risen in all his Glory, surrounded by angelic figures who are there as if to assist us in the climb to reach our ascended Lord. While the church choir spend the worship hours gazing on this, it must remind them of the glory and greatness of the Lord. Sitting high above our Decatur Street entrance, these windows are illuminated at night as a reminder of the Christian belief declared to the world. With this light on every evening, the other sanctuary windows are also somewhat illuminated in the darkening hours.

Smaller windows were also inserted on either side of our main entrance to honor veterans of our music ministries: one showing a set of organ pipes and the other representing Cecilia, patron saint of music.

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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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