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Sugar Grove church celebrates 200th anniversary

Photo submitted to the Times Observer The First Presbyterian Church of Sugar Grove is celebrating its bicentennial.

The First Presbyterian Church of Sugar Grove is celebrating its 200th anniversary.

In 1821, the Rev. Amos Chase held church services in a house in Sugar Grove, according to History of the First Presbyterian Church of Sugar Grove.

Chase continued holding regular services at the home of David Brown.

That gathering, the first to have regular services in Sugar Grove, became the First Presbyterian Church of Sugar Grove.

It was the first regular, organized church in the community.

According to the History, it is also the oldest House of Worship in Warren County and in the Presbytery of Lake Erie.

The original members were David Fox, I. Fitch, Nathan Abbott, WC White, Samuel White, David Stilson, Hannah Tuttle, Matilda Fox, Anna Abbott, Aurelia Wetmore, Cynthia Fitch, Betsey White, Catherine Stuart, William Stuart, Betsey Stuart, Robert Stuart, Polly Stuart, James Lowther, Barbara Lowther, Jennet Brown, Joseph Langdon, Frederick Miles, Catherine Catlin Miles, Sally Smith and Francis Smith,” according to the History.

Prior to that, there had been services at the school house, but they were only held a few times a year and without regard to denomination.

When a formal Sugar Grove Presbyterian Church was built in 1834, it was situated on the property next to Brown’s. That construction cost an estimated $1,000, according to the History.

The congregation moved to where the current church stands, a few properties from the original, in 1865.

That church was renovated in 1876. That work included the installation of taller windows, and the construction of a balcony, belfry, and steeple.

The church held fund-raisers toward the purchase of a bell, according to the History.

One of those involved the men of the church preparing a community meal. Perhaps the advertising was intended to be comedic, but the menu included “a variety of inedible offerings,” according to the History. There is speculation that, rather than raising funds by selling actual meals, those who donated were excused from having to eat those inedibles.

The next renovation started around 1910.

That construction brought the ‘Sunday School Annex,’ and resulted in the installation of the “largest wooden doors in Warren County” separating the church parlors from the sanctuary.

“The annex was designed by local artisan Susan Davis Lore and allowed the church, for the first time, rooms in which to hold Sunday School,” according to the History.

That work, in the arts and crafts style, was done by Landin Brothers Construction, who also added a platform at the front of the church – eliminating the pulpit. What was once the pulpit is now used as the altar.

There have been many changes over the years.

Still, some features dating back to the 1834 church are still in place today. “the pews, two columns of the arch of the sanctuary, and the two entry doors into the sanctuary are original features to the building,” according to the History.

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