First Presbyterian Church


City of Syracuse, New York

From From Dwight H. Bruce (ed.), Onondaga's Centennial.  Boston History Co., 1896, Vol. I, pp. 513-515

Click on the church for a larger picture


The Original First Presbyterian Church

[Sketched from memory by M. W. Hanchett.]

From Dwight H. Bruce (ed.), Onondaga's Centennial.  Boston History Co., 1896, Vol. I, pp. 513-515

First Presbyterian Church. - The first Presbyterian church of the village of Syracuse was organized on December 14, 1824, and the following trustees elected:  Moses D. Burnet, Miles Seymour, Rufus Moss, Jonathan Day, Heman Walbridge, Joshua Forman and Joseph Solcum.  The first house of worship was built in 1825 on the site of the McCarthy retail stores.  The site was presented to the society by William James and others.  Rev. Derrick C. Lansing dedicated the church on the second Thursday in January, 1826, and on April 6 of that year the First Presbyterian church of Syracuse was organized with the following twenty-six members:
  The building was enlarged in length about 1832; at that time thirty-three feet additional land on the north side could have been bought for $30 a foot, but the trustees thought the price too high.  Rev. Dr. John W. Adams was ordained and installed pastor in June, 1826.  Dr. Adams was in many respects a remarkable man.  He was a graduate of the Auburn Theological Seminary, a man of large intellectual powers, strong and noble character, and industrious perservering in all good work.  During nearly a quarter of a century he was a conspicuous figure in the history of Syracuse and drew himself the trust and affection of the whole community.  Under his faithful labors the church prospered beyond the anticipations of its founders, and soon became wealthy and strong in members.  The money for building the first church was largely raised by Joshua Forman, who personally circulated a subscription paper and secured eighty-three contributors.1  Dr. Adams served the church until his death, April 4, 1850.  To meet the necessity for a more commodious church the lot now occupied by the stone edifice was purchased a little prior to 1850 for $10,000, and the following building committee appointed:  Henry Gifford, E. W. Leavenworth, Thomas B. Fitch, Zebulon Ostrum and Albert A. Hudson.  The services of the celebrated architect, Lefever, were secured and plans of the beautiful edifice, which has since graced the corner, were accepted; it was dedicated November 24, 1850, and cost about $40,000.  The sum of $10,000 has been expended on it since.  The old church was demolished in April, 1850, and just as the last timbers were removed the venerable Dr. Adams passed from earth.  Rev. Charles McHarg served the church from June, 1850, to December 8, 1851, after which the church was without a regular pastor about two and a half years.  On May 1, 1854, Rev. Sherman Bond Canfield, D.D., began his pastorate, which continued to October, 1870.  After a year and a half, during which the church was supplied, Rev. Dr. Nelson Millard assumed the pastorate November 19, 1872, and continued to October, 1885, when Rev. Dr. George B. Spaulding was called, and still remains in the pastorate.  A mission was founded by this church in 1860.  In January, 1863, Edward Townsend presented to the society a lot on Monroe street, on which H. W. Van Buren and T. B. Fitch soon afterward erected a chapel.  A new chapel has recently been erected.

1  In 1829 some children playing around the foundations of the old church, looked through a small opening in the wall and saw a string; this they pulled out and found attached to it a tin can in which were $700.  A short time previous several robberies had been committed and the money secreted under the church.  It was thus returned to its owners.

Submitted 7 June 1998
Updated 12 July 1998