By Dede Terns-Thorpe
For Columbia-Greene Media
It’s Sunday morning and seems a perfect day to write about a church, a church with little information available. Church Street in Tannersville (located at the intersection of 6013 and 6023 Main Street), must have been named that for a reason, but it took quite a while to find out why. Many people in the community undoubtedly had an idea there was a church at the top of this hill but were just never sure.
What I have here is a little of the short life of the church on the top of the hill, at 44 Church Street.
The People’s Congregational Church, was organized in the year 1892. In checking the 1891 annual meeting of congregational churches I found that the church organized in May of 1892 and opened by the following December. The church was within a radius of 3 miles of a hundred boarding houses and hotels. It said the winter residents numbered about 500 and the summer residents were many times that number. Reverend J. Frank Forsythe was the original pastor, followed in 1893 by Cary H. H. Pannell. A notice in a Hunter Review paper dated November 28, 1892 stated: The members of the congregational church, Tannersville, N.Y., hereby tender their sincere thanks to Mr. Nelson Campbell for the gratuitous use of his hall during the erection of the Congregational church.
Note: Nelson Campbell was the owner of the Mansion House, located near 5999 Main Street in Tannersville.
In 1902 the People’s Congregational Church merged with the First Presbyterian Church and remained that status until it dissolved. Dates at this point have been difficult to finalize, but the building was later sold to Harry F. Thorpe, Willy Weinstein, and Emmanuel and Stella Mertazanis.
With some imagination, one can see how delightful the church on the hill must have been with its view of the entire village. No doubt the Rip Van Winkle Lake was also well within its sights. Today it is a well-maintained private home, looking much as it once did (minus the vestibule and the steeple) 127 years ago.
A copy of a letter written in 1978 to Historian Leah Wiltse from Blanche Showers (a previous Tannersville resident living in Florida), provides further insight on the church. Blanche (husband Art Showers) tells how her family moved to Tannersville in 1908. They soon started going to the Presbyterian church and continued until it disbanded. She said her brother Edwin was born in 1925 and that the church disbanded sometime about then. The letter told of numerous families that attended the services at the church.
I feel comfortable sharing the names as it has been such a lengthy period since. Some familiar names: Aunt Ella Layman, Fromer Woodard’s parents, Mable & Lula Wright, Rose Deyo, Roswell Haines, the Frank Raensch family & Frank’s mother.
Blanche said, “The Raensch family was Episcopalian, but they went to this church until the summer when the church on Philadelphia Hill was open.” Mrs. George F. Haines, Mrs. Frank North and Herb’s family, Annabeth Voss went to Sunday School there, Bill Scribers, Fred & Iva Wilson, Ernest Wilson’s family, Will Ploss, Mrs. Clarence Fowler, Will Jones family, Fred Wasson’s, Jay Cole’s, the Penrose’s, Mrs. Arlie Rose, the McDaniel’s, Sarah Amm’s family, the Johnson family, the Winchell’s, Mrs. Cline, Nettie Wheat, Mildred Lord and Elaine Brewer.
Blanche told how the pastor also had charge of the Hunter church and used to come up on the train to preach in Tannersville. She remembers him because he used to play the violin and his wife played the cello. She said the Sunday School stayed open for a time after they had no pastor, but so many people either moved away or died. After that it was not possible to raise money enough to keep the church going. Blanche believes the records were turned over to the Hunter church at that time.
Here are so interesting tid-bits mentioning the church found in the local papers:
1893–the Congregational people had a festival Saturday night.
1893–the foundation is being laid for a Congregational parsonage. (No record was found of the site for the parsonage).
1896-Reverand Smith from Germantown will preach at the Congregation Church in Tannersville on December 6th, both in the morning and evening.
1896-Stimpson Haynes lost his barn to a lightening fire last summer and is building a new one near the Congregational Church. (Tid-bit: The 1925 Tannersville Board of Water Supply’s map shows a Haynes building just south of the People’s Congregational Church).
1903-The choir of the Presbyterian church is getting up a public entertainment for the benefit of the church at near-by Raensch’s Casino.
1903-The choirs of the Methodist church and the Presbyterian church will unite to sing at the Union service at the Methodist church.
1903-The Presbyterian Sunday School picnic was held last Saturday at the Laurel House in Haines Falls. The children enjoyed the day and later stopped at Deer Park on the Mountain House Road before going home.
1904-The children of the Presbyterian Sunday school will give an Easter concert on Sunday morning.
1905-The funeral for Mrs. Margaret Hager, aged 68 years, was held at the Presbyterian church in Tannersville. The interment was in the Tannersville cemetery (Evergreen on Bloomer Road).
1911-A cantata entitled “Santa Claus in Slumberland” will be rendered at the Methodist church on the evening of December 23rd. The Presbyterian church is also practicing for an entertainment on the 26th.
A special thank you to Susan Kohan and Debbie Fromer for their assistance with this information.
Please send any information (or corrections) to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 518-589-4130.
Until next week, take care, be thankful and be kind. You never know how your act of kindness may change someone’s life.