Church History

According to The History of the City of Ogdensburg, “The Presbyterian Church was the first regular religious association formed in Ogdensburg. It was organized at the request of Samuel Ogden, and through the efforts of Nathan Ford in 1805, and was called the First Church and Congregation of Christ in the Town of Oswegatchie.” In 1819 the name was “abandoned” as the church became a part of The Presbyterian Church in the United Sates. The first Presbyterian Church was built on the corner of Ford and Caroline Streets. It was a wood structure and cost about $600 to build. This building was finished in December of 1819 and called the “Gospel Barn” or “Meeting House.” Sabbath School, or Sunday School, began with this building.

The first stone building of the Presbyterian Church was built in 1824-1825 and in 1825 the first bell was installed in the tower. The church remains on this site today and by 1828 the church had its first pipe organ.

(Engraved in the bottom section of this marble baptismal font: ”In memoriam Mrs. Anabella Magee, Born in Centreville, VA A.D 1804, died in Watkins, NY A.D. 1864. An earnest liberal and constant friend to the Church and to the poor. Given to this church by the honorable John Magee, A.D 1865.” We find no pictures thus far in our archives )

In 1848 the original building was expanded and a new bell tower put on. There is one wall of the original church that has lasted through many renovations as the church grew. The East wall from the foundation through about half way up through the stained glass windows is part of the original 1825 stone building. Over time the church has grown in height and width. In 1866 there was a second rebuilding of the church and the second pipe organ was installed. Interestingly shortly after this, in 1868 Ogdensburgh dropped the “h” to be Ogdensburg, and became incorporated as a city.

As a point of interest, the first individual glass communion cups were used in 1901. In 1917 the organ was again rebuilt and in 1924 the church was redecorated and the tower spire was removed.

From 1962-1966 the Church Sanctuary was redesigned. A new Moller Pipe Organ was built in the balcony and new carpeting was installed in the sanctuary. The pipe organ was originally in the front west corner of the sanctuary where the “choir room” can be found today. The choir room and “radio room” were added at this time as well. The lectern was added and the front reconfigured to accommodate the pews for the choir in the chancel area.

In 1945 the Church held its first radio broadcast of the Sunday service. This continued through 2012 when the cost of the broadcast far exceeded the listening audience. At this time you can live stream worship from the church’s web site and/or watch archived services.

The church electric chime carillon originated in 1947 as was added to the bell tower as a memorial to those who served in WWII. In 1999, Howard Haley Nichols gave the church a new carillon, which can be heard throughout the city of Ogdensburg today.

building and property next door to the West of the Church were purchased in 1970. The small park between the “office building” and the Church was dedicated as the John Claxton Park in 1972. The original building was eventually taken down and the current office building was erected. This property is still owned by the church and through the years has been leased to several different medical offices. In the 1980s the building became the new home for Planned Parenthood in Ogdensburg.

The Church roof was replaced in 1972 and again in 2005-2007. In 1978 the church elevator was installed. In the fall of 2007 the hedges around the church were removed and a new patio was added by the gazebo to enhance outdoor worship. By 2008 the church also had new, custom made gutters and the members replaced the roof on the gazebo.

The MacIntyre House (Manse) In 1914 the church manse was built. Many years later in 1968 the Church Manse at 311 Franklin Street became the office building for the church holding classrooms in the upstairs bedrooms. This building was named The MacIntyre House in 1994 after The Reverend William C. MacIntyre D.D. who served the church from 1908 through 1945. Reverend MacIntyre and his family were the first to live in the Manse which was built for the pastor. Through a fund set up but the Reverend MacIntyre’s son, Sandy, the MacIntyre house is regularly maintained and redecorated. It currently houses the church offices, board room and Sunday School class rooms as well as a private overnight room for the pastor should the need arise.

The Claxton Edition In 1998 the Claxton addition was built in memory of Ruth Claxton, given by her husband Garfield. The addition is nestled behind the MacIntyre House and includes what is referred to as “Ruth’s Room,” a kitchen, and two lower level rooms. The addition connects the MacIntyre House (Manse) and the Church on two levels. “Ruth’s Room” is used for everything from receptions and showers to Adult Sunday School and Small Worship services.

Ministry & Mission in the Community As a part of its mission, the Church encourages not-for-profits to use their facility. In 1970 the first Planned Parenthood clinic was held in Fellowship Hall. For many years Planned Parenthood used the Fellowship Hall and surrounding rooms for their clinic. Planned Parenthood serves the City of Ogdensburg and its surrounding communities in caring for reproductive health for many women who could not afford health care. Contrary to the imagination of some, abortions have never been performed at the Ogdensburg site.

In the 1980s the building next to the Church became the new home for Planned Parenthood in Ogdensburg. The church leases the building at cost to assure the property does not become a burden to the church. The church does not feel a need to have an income from Planned Parenthood at this time as it considers this to be a part of the church’s many missions.

In 1972 AA began meeting in Fellowship Hall and in 1996 the church (they currently meet in the Claxton Edition), in keeping with its long history of emphasis on mission and community service, sponsored the Osmanovic family from Bosnia. Currently many organizations use the Church’s Fellowship Hall for their meetings and activities.

The Church supports many different missions. The First Presbyterian has sponsored manywork teams to assist after disaster. The members also have supported an infant crisis nursery in Muzuzu, Malawi Africa, Mission In the North Country (MINC), Rural Rahab, Souperbowl of Caring, Presbyterian Peace Making, One Great Hour of Sharing, Heifer Project International, relay for life and many other projects, as well as many projects through Church World Services.

In addition the church holds the Food $en$e program each month, a free lunch every Saturday (with the Ogdensburg American Baptist Church providing for the third on every month). In the summer the “Feed the Children Program” serves to feed local children and their families the last two weeks of Summer before school starts again.

The church has a history of long term pastors which has lent stability to the ministry and mission of the membership. It is an historic church, but also very much a living church with a lively congregation eager to serve.