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RELIGION IN GLENS FALLS

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                 The first settlers of Glens Falls were Abraham Wing and his fellow Quakers from Dutchess County, New York.  It is believed they worshiped here as early as 1767.  As more people settled in the area, other denominations started having services in various locations.  This is a brief description of how the various organized religions developed in the city.

            The first meetinghouse for the Quakers was constructed on Bay Road in 1786.  It was built of logs and had separate entrances for men and women.  This was replaced in 1802, by a large frame building erected on the corner of Bay Road and what is now Quaker Road.  There was a cemetery at this site and it is so marked by a stone memorial today.  The frame building was moved to the Oneida Corners and housed that community’s church.  In 1875, the Friend’s Church on Ridge Street, between Grand and Fulton Streets, was erected for a cost of $1300.  An early account said the building had no heat  “except for zeal and coals brought in metal boxes”.

            The first Presbyterian Church was established in Glens Falls in 1803.  By June 1st of that year, 38 persons had pledged $947. towards construction of a church.  A committee was appointed to collect the funds and build the church.  A number of those who pledged to donate, later had to be sued.  It was not until December, 1808, that the building, located on what is now Warren Street and known as the “Union Church of Pearl Village”, was occupied.  It was also referred to as the “Old White Church”.  The name was changed to the First Presbyterian Church in 1848.  The bell of this church announced deaths by tolling three times for a baby, six for a woman and nine for a man.  There followed three other buildings on the same site, two of which were destroyed by fire, before the property was sold to become the State Theater and the congregation moved to its present location at the corner of Glen and Notre Dame Streets.  The new building, which still serves the congregation, was dedicated in 1929.

            The first Methodist congregation was organized ca. 1796.  The first Methodist Church in the city was built on Church Street in 1829, for about $1500. and was later sold to St. Mary’s Parish, which used the building as a Catholic Church.  The Methodists then built a church on Warren Street in Glens Falls where St. Mary’s – St. Alphonsus Regional Catholic School is now located.  This was destroyed in the fire of 1864, and rebuilt the following year.  They remained at this location until selling the land to St. Mary’s.  The present Christ Church, United Methodist, was completed in 1907, at the southwest corner of Bay and Washington Streets.  The Free Methodist Church was founded in 1884, and they erected a frame building on Ogden Street in 1886, that is still in use.  The congregation of the Wesleyan Methodist Church constructed a building on the corner of Grove Avenue and Garfield Street in 1904.

            Baptist services began in the Queensbury area in the late 1790’s, before the church was organized in Glens Falls.  In 1832, the group met at the Red School House, a one room building located at what is now the corner of Broad and South Streets.  They assumed the name of The Glens Falls Baptist Conference.  The first church was built in 1834, on the north side of Maple Street and rebuilt in 1884.  An addition was put on in 1925.

            Episcopalians were present in Glens Falls before their first church, a wooden chapel, was built on Ridge Street in 1843, today the site of the Queensbury Hotel parking lot.  Prior to their church being built, the congregation met in private homes, schoolhouses and other churches.  In 1854, work was started on their present Church of the Messiah on Glen Street.  It was dedicated in June of 1866.

            The first Roman Catholic Church in Glens Falls was St. Mary’s, which, as mentioned above, bought the Methodist Church on Church Street to serve as their center of worship.  Prior to this, they worshiped in Sandy Hill, now Hudson Falls.  The present St. Mary’s Church on Warren Street was completed and dedicated in January of 1870.  The services were conducted in English.  As a number of French speaking families came into the area, as a result of employment opportunities arising from lumbering operations and the Feeder Canal, a second Roman Catholic church, whose services were in the French language, was built at the corner of Pine and Broad Streets in 1853.  It was originally called St. John the Baptist Church before being named St. Alphonsus Church, as we know it today.  It was enlarged in 1873.  In 1888, a large brick building was erected which burned in January of 1955.  The present building was erected in 1957.

            The services for the First Church of Christ, Scientist were held in 1899, at the home of W. N. Haskell on Haskell Ave.  Later, they held services in rented rooms at the Empire Theater, before moving to a building where the old Post Office on Warren Street now stands.  Their present church on Lincoln Avenue was opened in May of 1812.

            The Salvation Army has been active in Glens Falls since 1885, and used rooms on lower Glen Street as their meeting place until the Salvation Army Citadel was erected in 1905, at the top of Glen Street Hill, in front of where J. E. Sawyer and Co. is now located.  That citadel was torn down in 1960.  In later years, they moved to a building on Chester Street that once housed Glens Falls Academy.

The Orthodox Jewish congregation of Sara Tefilo was organized in 1892, and a year later built a synagogue on Jay Street.  To accomodate the congregation's many activities, a larger place was built as the Community Building on Bay Street.  This now serves as a center for activities, as well as religious services.  The Liberal Jewish Congregation laid the cornerstone for Temple Beth-El on Marion Avenue in 1925, where they still hold services.

 

SOURCES:   1.  Glens Falls Times, Glens Falls Centennial Edition, April 24, 1939, Section 3, page 1.

2.       Bridging The Years, Glens Falls, New York, 1763 – 1978, Published by The Glens Falls Historical Association with Crandall Library, 1978, pages 170 – 193.

3.       History Of Warren County New York, Edited by William H. Brown, Published by Board Of Supervisors of Warren County, 1963, pages 152 – 155.

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