Niagara Gazette

Opinion

March 31, 2014

HIGGS: Moving on to St. Peter's Episcopal Church - just a dream in 1823

Niagara Gazette — Back in 1823, Rev. Hopkins, an Episcopalian clergyman from New Jersey arrived in the Village of Niagara Falls and began holding the first Episcopalian services in a little schoolhouse in downtown Niagara Falls and Lewiston. Some records state Rev. Hopkins left later that same year but according to the Program of Services Held in Commemoration of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Laying of the Cornerstone on May 20, 1923, he ministered until 1828.

During that year, three area denominations Episcopalians, Methodists and Presbyterians, came together to build one place of worship they would share in proportion to their respective contributions. General Parkhurst Whitney donated the land on what is now First Street for a chapel in 1828. During this time, Judge Samuel DeVeaux became involved with the organization of the church and was elected to head the building drive. According to Wikipedia, Judge DeVeaux was a heavy contributor to the Lockport and Niagara railroads, also known as the Strap Railroad and the construction of the Whirlpool Suspension Bridge. He died suddenly in 1852 and he left a portion of his estate for the benefit of Niagara Falls and the Episcopal Diocese to establish The DeVeaux College for Orphans and Destitute Children which was operated by the Episcopal Diocese of Western New York. The college was located in the northern limits of the city and opposite the Whirlpool on land owned by Judge DeVeaux and the entire region still bears his name today.

As the chapel was being constructed back in January of 1829, the parish was incorporated as the “Christ Church” and Samuel DeVeaux and Samuel Hooker were elected Wardens. The first official service in the chapel was held in the summer of 1829 and was conducted by Bishop John Henry Hobart of New York. The anniversary program stated “We should bear in mind that the facilities for a trip from his See city, New York, were hardly as convenient or the trip as quickly made as now.” Remember this program booklet was used in 1923.

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