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In 1867 the site for the construction of the First United
Presbyterian Church in Franklinville was purchased from Samuel F. Bard
and his wife for $200. This piece of property today contains the residence of Richard
and Mary Pierce and is designated as 10 Chestnut Street.
On this particular piece of real estate, approximately where the
Pierce residence stands today, was built in 1870 a frame edifice, at a cost of $5000, the
brand new home of the First United Presbyterian Church. This building had a very short
life; twelve years later, in 1882, it was destroyed by fire.
An additional lot, contiguous on the west to this original lot, was
then purchased from James & Malissa Grierson for $800, a very hefty
sum for a piece of real estate that size in those days. Upon this newly purchased lot was
built a red brick church. The cost of this building at the time was reported as ranging
from $12,000 to $18,000; the latter figure apparently is considered to be closer to the
actual amount spent.
The original pipe organ was equipped with a foot bellows and later
run by water power. Still later this was replaced by an electric motor.
In 1891 the United Presbyterian Church made a little history of its
own with regard to women's rights. We quote from the Franklinville
Centennial Book, which was quoting from another source:
"Quoted from the Cattaraugus Journal, April 19, 1891. 'The United
Presbyterian Congregation has made a decided advance by unanimously
electing two of it most prominent women to be trustee. The ladies who
have received this special mark of honor are Mrs. J. D. Case and Mrs.
T. B. Button, Jr. This is the first instance in which a female has been
a trustee of any of our religious societies. The UP church allows the
women to vote.' "
The church was apparently very well built, requiring very little
maintenance for almost twenty years:
The Chronicle, week ending September 28, 1900
"Workmen have turned the interior of the United Presbyterian Church
topsy turvy during the week and for three weeks at least they will be
busy making repairs in the auditorium of the building. Plaster is being
put on and the whole will be newly decorated. This is the first
important repair job done in the building since it was built 18 years
In about 1906 a severe hail and wind storm broke or damaged most of
the stained glass windows in the church. These were replaced by the
memorial windows which still existed when the church was demolished.
The beautiful large window in the front of the church had been given by
Mrs. Alicia Gordon and Mrs. Maria Walker.
I have found several accounts of the time of the construction of
the residence now (1998) occupied by Mr. & Mrs. Pierce, all of which
were written after the fact. They do not agree on the date, although
they do agree on the cost as having been $3300. I tend to put more
faith in the authenticity of the dates on the following two clippings:
The Chronicle, week ending Friday, July 10, 1908
"Ground was broken yesterday for the foundation of the new parsonage for
the United Presbyterian pastor, on the lot adjoining the church edifice
on Chestnut Street."
The Chronicle, week ending Friday, May 28, 1909:
"The U. P. parsonage lawn has been finely graded this week by dirt
drawn from the highways. The sheds at the rear of the parsonage will be
removed and the driveway on the east closed up. Eleven sheds will be
maintained at the rear of the church."
A cement block addition to the rear of the church was constructed
as a church school and reception hall in 1956.
The United Presbyterian Church served its parishioners until 1959.
Then the members of the congregation were shocked and very disheartened
to find it was going to be merged into First Presbyterian Church on the
northwest corner of South Main (NYS Route 16) and Franklin Streets.
Henceforth the merged church would be known as The Presbyterian Church.
As with any building left standing empty, it rapidly became a
problem. Former members of its congregation watched sadly as it
deteriorated. And then it was sold.
Franklinville Sentinel Press, Thursday, June 27, 1963
"FRANKLINVILLE - Sale of the 80 year old United Presbyterian church
building on Chestnut Street has been approved by the congregation of The
Presbyterian Church of Franklinville. The sale, to Aleck Phillips of
Franklinville, awaits approval by the Presbytery of Western New York
which meets in Buffalo July 16, 1963.
Majority vote approving the sale was made after a Sunday morning
worship service at the Presbyterian church after the proposal was
described by the chairman of the finance committee of the church.
Pews in the old church have been sold to the Christian and
Missionary Alliance church for its new building in Olean and will be
removed this summer. The Franklinville congregation plans to remove and
save portions of the stained glass windows which are salvageable.
Mr. Phillips, a partner in C. A. Phillips and Sons, a farm
machinery outlet here, plans to tear down the church and build a
residence there for his family."
The church was demolished in 1972; however Mr. Phillips did not
retain ownership or build a house. The lot was eventually conveyed to
Mr. & Mrs. Richard Pierce who have landscaped it.