Niagara Gazette

Opinion

December 8, 2013

HIGGS: A closer look at First Presbyterian Church

Niagara Gazette — Before we go too far into churches in Niagara Falls neighborhoods a little background information never hurts. When the merger of the villages of Niagara Falls and Suspension Bridge occurred on March 17, 1892 the city of Niagara Falls was founded. At that time there was a population of 1,300 in the Village of Niagara Falls and six congregations, five of which had their own structures. First Presbyterian Church, St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church, First Baptist Church, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and St. Mary’s of the Cataract Roman Catholic Church. The Universalist Society used the International Hotel for services prior to their present day location on Main Street near the Main Post Office.

Suspension Bridge had seven religious groups and six had their own churches which were situated over a good portion of the village. The south village line was Main Street (then known as Lewiston Avenue) and Lockport Street which was the site of the Church of the Epiphany. The First Congregational Church was on Cleveland Avenue (then Erie) just west of Main Street near Whirlpool. The Church of Christ was at the corner of Niagara Avenue and Tenth Street. Nearby at South Avenue was the Church of the Sacred Heart and the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church which began as a small stone building on South Avenue near Lockport Street. Further west on Weston Avenue was the Free Methodist Church and the Beth El congregation met in the Silberberg Building on Main Street near Ontario.

Before the end of the first year of the city was over, two more congregations organized, both in the North End. St. James Methodist on South Avenue was founded in October of 1892 and in the same month the First Church of the Evangelical Association was organized. Most of this information was found in "A City Is Born Niagara Falls, New York" by Hamilton B. Mizer and the Niagara Falls Historical Preservation Commission website.

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