Niagara Gazette

Columns

March 17, 2014

HIGGS: Celebrating St. Patrick's Day, Niagara Falls' birthday

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — This revival occurred during the time of the incorporation of the City of Niagara Falls (1892) while the church was led by Pastors, G. H. Kemp, G. T. Webb, L. A. Mitchell and James Rae until 1899 with services and church life in the old church home located on First Street near Main. During 1899, it was decided to seek a new location as the New York Central Railroad which passed directly behind the building became disturbing.

A Niagara Gazette article dated Dec. 29, 1942, reflected on some of the later uses of the original church. It was known as one of the show places in the former village. The original church was vacated in 1901 and the ownership was passed to C.N. Owen and it was later used as a storage building for a Buffalo brewing company. Later it became a warehouse until the Elderfield -Hartshorn Hardware Company used this location for its new building.

The cornerstone was laid on the new church home at 554 Main Street on June 16, 1900 with Rev. Abner F. Bowling as the pastor who served during the design and planning stages. During its first service on January 20, 1901, the Rev. Dr. A. S. McArthur, President of the World’s Baptist Alliance and a pastor in New York City for over forty years preached the dedication sermon with Rev. Adam Claghorn, the first pastor, present for the service. Rev. Bowling served the congregation for six years with a membership of three hundred persons and following his departure in July of 1905 there was a period without a regular pastor until the coming of Rev. John E. Vassar on April 1, 1907. He remained until June 1916.

Now a little about the architecture of the First Baptist Church which was designed by James Robert White, a local architect, born and educated in Canada, who moved to Niagara Falls in 1895. Between 1900 and 1912 he designed many of the well known homes in the city, such as 324 Buffalo Ave., 725 and 731 Fourth St., 683 and 702 Orchard Parkway and 531 and 720 Buffalo Ave. He designed the ecclesiastical space in the Victorian Gothic Revival style which was popular during these times.

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