Historic Structures

First Presbyterian Church, Cairo New York

Date added: March 25, 2010 Categories: New York Church Greek Revival

Placed back from the main highway some 75 feet, surrounded by lawn and trees, this white building with its long green shutters has quiet dignity and great charm. A double row of trees lines the walk leading straight to the main door, their branches forming a frame for the tower and doorway.

The records of the church have been three times destroyed by fire; first, in the house of Daniel Sayre, Jan. 28, 1808; second, in the house of Jason Stevens, Sept. 1, 1862; and last, in the house of Ezra M. Stevens, April 19, 1864. Nevertheless, a few historical items taken from other old records, and a few supplied from the recollections of Jason Stevens who was clerk fifty years ago, appear in the History of Greene County.

From this source we gather that "The Presbyterian Church of Christ, in Cairo" was organized by the Rev. Beriah Hotchkin of Greeneville, May 22, 1799. The names of the members of the first organization, three men and five women, are given.

The present edifice was built in 1806.

A letter written about 1839 by Dianiel Sayre, one of the organizers, is printed, giving a good review of the Church's religious activities and personalia down to the time he wrote. He closes with the sad reflections "What a sorrowful thought and lamentable state this church is in."

A complete list of the pastors, commencing with the Rev. Richard Williams in 1812, and continuing to the Rev. Sanford W. Roe who began his pastorate on May 1, 1883, is added.

There were 70 communicants in 1885. The value of the church, parsonage, and session-room was set down as only $6,000.

The architectural treatment of this building is in the classic style, severely simple and with real Greek character in the flat but refined moldings. The entire building, including the pilasters, is of wood, and its front is covered with flush siding.

formerly there was a clock face on the square tower; and the clock movement is still to be found inside at the lower landing. The church bell is in the tower.

Originally there were two doors from the vestibule to the auditorium instead of the one present double door.

Inside, the plaster reveals that the balcony extended originally dowm both side walls as well as across the rear where it is now. At that time the choir occupied the rear gallery instead of being, as at present, back of the minister's chair.

About 1900, when alterations were made, an apse was added back of the platform and the organ placed there. It probably was formerly in the balcony at the rear. A wing was also added at that time at the back, extending to the east of the buildings This houses the Sunday School and other Church activities.