History

1818b.jpgchurch3.jpgchurch4.jpgchurch2.jpgtracker.jpgTHE BUILDING

1818

From the minutes of the Association and a 80th Anniversary
Booklet, we learn that the original church was built to the dimensions
of 36 ft wide and 45 ft long. The steeple projected 10 ft in front,
was 12 ft wide and extended 8 ft above the ridge. By entering
the attic of the present church, it is apparent where the old
roof line was and that the steeple was 12 ft square as it rose
above the roof line.

 

1818

Also from the same sources we learn that there were wall pews
which were 10 ft long and 3.5 ft wide Those in the wall pews would
face each other, not the pulpit. The pews in the center faced
forward much as they do now.

Galleries were built on both sides and across the front. There
were 38 pews below and 28 above. The pulpit was raised so high
that a flight of stairs was needed to reach it.

From the book Wood and Stone it was found that the Unitarian
Church of Barneveld was of a similar design to the original Westernville
Church. A trip to Barneveld confirmed that this church had the
same exterior dimensions as in the description of the Westernville
church. Therefore, the drawing to the right assumes that the two
churches were built from similar plans. One difference is that
the Barneveld church has four windows on each side in the 45 ft
wall while the current Westernville Church has only three windows
in the in the 45 ft section. The assumption was made that the
Windows are still in their original placement and only three are
shown.

The Barneveld Church shows the steeple has a top on it which
may or may not have been original. Since the description of the
Westernville Church says the steeple extended 8 ft above the ridge
it is assumed that it was left flat on top. The Barneveld Church
has a window on each side of the steeple in front and so the Westernville
Church is shown the same way. It is suspected that the two windows
which now exist on the extension which is presently the Narthex
were originally on the front.

In A Century of Village Unitarianism by Charles Graves
we find the original pew arrangement of the Barneveld Church right
down to the names of the owners of each pew. (The pews were auctioned
off with enough money realized to cover the cost of the original
building – $2316.50) Since this arrangement had 36 pews on the
lower level and did include wall pews, we will make the assumption
that the Westernville Church used the same arrangement. By drawing
a line around 28 of these pews, we can also determine a possible
arrangement for the galleries of the Westernville Church.

1838

From the booklet Memorial of 80th Anniversary of the First
Presbyterian Church of Westernville, New York
we learn that
the church was extended to enclose the steeple. Although it was
stated that this was a 12 ft extension, it must be that the extension
was 10 ft as the present length of the church is 55 ft.

(It is surmised that the confusion came from the fact that
the steeple was 12 ft square but did not take into account the
2 ft. portion that intersected the main body of the Building)
The steeple was then carried up to the height of the 1898 configuration
which was assumed to be the same as the present height. (This
would be a good subject for further research) Also in this year,
the “unsightly” galleries on the side were removed.

A few years later, the gallery across the front of the church
was moved back over the porch as it was in 1898. (This may or
may not be as far as the present configuration) Also, at this
time, the pulpit was lowered another story which may be approximately
the same level as the present platform. There are references to
the fact that the high pulpit of the early 1800s was very uncomfortable
to the necks of the worshipers on the lower level. One possible
reason for a high pulpit is that the acoustics may have been better
from this location.

One assumption made on the 1838 configuration is that the front
of the church was now sided with flat wide boards rather than
the clapboards found on the side. This is the style of the present
church and it may be that there were not enough clapboards from
the original configuration to fully cover the front without a
lot of piecing of short boards. It is also assumed that there
were now two front doors as with today’s configuration and that
the two windows originally in front were moved to the side to
let light into the new Narthex.

(note that the window nearest the front is not placed at an
even spacing with the other three as in the current building)

 

1874

In 1874 and 1875, $2000.00 was expended to put a new roof on
the church building which would have a much steeper pitch than
the original. From measurements recently made in the attic, it
was found that the new roof was raised by approximately 45 inches
over the original peak.

Also, during this period, the inner walls were fured and frescoed
making it warmer. Two new furnaces were added at this time. One
can speculate that the church would get uncomfortably cold during
the winter months prior to these improvements.

 

1898

This is the year of the 80th Anniversary Celebration of the
Presbyterian Church. It was also the year that the Chapel was
added with rooms below for entertainment. New stained glass windows
were installed and new pews and other furnishings were supplied.

Examples of what these new pews are still in existence at both
George Olney’s and Katharine Sterling’s homes. The arrangement
was very likely the same as the present setup. There is a picture
in the chapel which may have been taken in this period which shows
these pews and platform apparently decorated for the Christmas
season.

 

1900

In 1900, the water works were added to both the church and
the manse. This is as listed in the Session Minutes for that year.

1922

In this year, the church was wired for electricity. This is
known from the plaque still located in the Narthex. The plaque
reads ” In memory of Susan B. French whose gift lighted the
church”.

1946

From records at the manse, it was learned that the tracker
organ was dedicated on April 15, 1946. (It had previously been
installed in the Presbyterian Church of Holland Patent, NY) On
this occasion Mrs. Waldo W. Prince of Rome played several selections.

 

Tracker Organ

1949

From recollections, it was learned that the basement under
the chapel was dug out in approximately 1949. This was largely
done by hand by members of the congregation. This provided the
addition of a large dining room and led to the many church suppers
for which the Presbyterian Church is known.