Niagara Gazette

Opinion

March 24, 2014

HIGGS: First Baptist Church continues to grow

Niagara Gazette — We continue with a look inside the current building known as the First Baptist Church at Fourth & Main Streets since 1901.

The large stained glass window on the left side of the sanctuary was given in memory of Mrs. Lucy Philpott by her sister Margaret in 1900. On the right in the sanctuary the stained glass window was presented by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Shaffer on Sept. 28, 1900. A more accurate technical description would be American Victorian opalescent leaded glass windows. These large windows are triple lancet windows (a triptych arrangement with flattened Gothic arch panels) made from both colored and stained glass.

Additionally, there are three colored glass windows in the Friendship Room, immediately to the rear of the sanctuary, and one each in the kitchenette and pastor’s study. One of the most architecturally significant features of the building is the stairway ascending to the sanctuary balcony off the upper narthex. Of special note are the panels of oak wainscoting placed at 45 degree angles. At the top of the stairs is a wainscoted vestibule leading to the balcony itself. At the top of the stairs there is another stained glass window and two more in the classroom to the rear of the balcony and one in the History Room. Before the educational wing was added in 1925, there were three circular windows of significance at the back of the altar, now removed. Famous visitors in the early part of the 20th century included John D. Rockefeller, an American Baptist, who when visiting the Falls worshiped here.

Of great interest at First Baptist Church is the pipe organ. The console is in the choir loft, on the left. The pipe chambers are located behind the grilles on the left, the right, and on the second floor above the baptistery. Originally installed in 1939 by the Hall Organ Company of West Haven, Connecticut, it was designed by Stanley E. Saxton, Professor of Organ at Skidmore College. Mr. Saxton played the recital at the dedication and always remained interested in the organ. He studied at Fontainebleau in France and carried over his love for French music.

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