224 Main Street: The Baptist Church



224 Main St

braham Wagener sold this whole row of lots off in 1824 and within a year or two after. He had already sold an acre to Andrew Oliver in 1819, and then in 1823 sold the two-acre plot at #226 to the new County for its buildings. Presumably the latter sale made these more valuable, or at least more readily saleable.

In 1824 then Wagener sold this lot, 4 rods (66 feet) wide and 17 rods (280 feet) deep -- as were most of them -- to a man named David Wood, of whom no more is known at present. Wood may have built a house or a store here, but in any case he sold the property to Samuel Foster in 1828 and Foster sold it to Collins Hall.

By 1834 the lot belonged to Ebenezer Brown, who sold it to the trustees of the First Baptist Church. They wanted to erect a house of worship here, and did so in the following year. It was built of brick, the only brick church in Penn Yan at that time.

The congregation was organized in 1830, though preaching had occasionally been performed as early as 1811. Members met in the old school house, and then in the Masonic lodge on Court Street. From around 1831 until it burned, local Baptists used the Court House. Presumably the fire was the final argument the group needed to build their own (relatively) fireproof church building.

Apparently no photographs were ever taken of the 1835 church. It shows up in long-range views of the village made during the period, however, as a Greek Revival building quite similar to the Court House next door (which was built in the same year). The building had a three-tier steeple centered above the facade, which was probably made of wood.

When the present building was erected in 1871 it was still the only brick church in town, and it is now the oldest active church building in the village. Brick from the old church was reused in this one, which has a timber frame and a brick veneer. The steeple was 120 feet high (see the picture on the page for 222 Main Street) and had to be replaced at the turn of the century by the present, much shorter, bell tower. This wasn't the last problem with the steeple, as in 1994 a roof timber cracked. The truss was rebuilt and the tower rebricked on two sides.

Since then the building has been renovated, inside and out, and the 1915 addition in the rear replaced with a larger one.

Far right: The First Baptist Church in Penn Yan, built in 1871 with a much taller steeple (see the picture on the page for 222 Main Street). This Italianate structure replaced the first church on the site, which was built in Greek Revival style in 1835.

People related to this lot and structure:

     Abraham Wagener
     Ebenezer Brown
     David Wood

Related history:

     Looking Backward