Our history

A Brief Timeline of building and notable gifts

1835 – July 27. Grace Church is organized & incorporated in the Diocese and State of New York.

1853 – August 11. Groundbreaking for a church on Elizabeth Street.

(This structure collapsed in a violent storm later in the year.)

1854-1856 – Construction of a new building.

(This structure collapsed due to unstable ground.)

1860 – November 13. Third attempted structure completed. Building consecrated by Bishop DeLancey.

1865 – July 1. The Rev. William Martin Beauchamp becomes the first rector, serving until 1900.

1870 – Purchase of a rectory on Oswego Street to house the priest and family.

1871 – Eighteen-stop pipe organ given to the church by William F. Morris, whose wife Frances Baldwin was an active member of Grace Church and an organist.

1874 – Church bell purchased and dedicated.

1886 – Grace Church becomes the first church in the United States to be lit by electricity when William F. Morris, owner of the neighboring Morris Machine Works, extends electricity from the new company power generating plant to the church building.

1887-1891 – Additions to the physical plant including Sunday school rooms, a recessed chancel, organ chamber, vestry room and store room. Gifts of a chancel rail and chancel furnishings, altar, and stained glass windows were also received. New carpeting, seats, pulpit, lectern and additional windows soon followed.

1895 – Church and rectory refurbished. First rector the Rev. Dr. William M. Beauchamp’s resignation presented, but not accepted by the vestry.

1900 – September 30. Dr. Beauchamp preaches his last sermon at Grace Church, his resignation as rector having been accepted August 8th.

1901-1907 – Introduction of a vested choir, building of choir stalls, church painted, new lighting installed, and a new brass and oak pulpit, a brass alms basin and a processional cross.

1902 – Purchase of a parish house just east of the church

1910 – November 15, Fiftieth anniversary of church consecration celebrated with musical offerings featuring violins and four members of the original choir of 1860.

1912 – Easter. New white silk Eucharistic vestments, announcement of the gift of a new altar and reredos. The anonymous donor later also gave a new sanctuary arch and ornamentation of the sanctuary ceiling. The dark oak carved altar included statues reportedly done by the carvers at Oberammergau. The reredos contained a painting of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.

1914-1929 – During the tenure of the Rev. Charles S. Champlin as fifth rector a number of gifts were received including a bishop’s cathedra, an alb for the crucifer, red cassocks and lace surplices for the servers, a solid silver gold-plated communion set, a sanctuary lamp, a sanctus bell, a censer and incense boat, two additional memorial windows and our current brass lectern.

1917 – Old parish house demolished for construction of a new parish center.

1920s – Fr. Champlin directed local theatrical presentations of the works of Gilbert and Sullivan and others in the new parish center. Also begun in the ‘20s were fund raising activities such as luncheons, card parties, the Follies and minstrel shows.

1930s – During the tenure of the sixth rector, the Rev. Roderic Pierce (who was notably high-church), gifts included a pyx and burse, a full set of purple Eucharistic vestments and a closet to hold them. But Sunday attendance (though not communicant numbers) dropped due in part to the use of incense, the controversial Stations of the Cross and cold temperatures due to lack of funds to adequately heat the church. Attendance continued to drop to 30-40 on a Sunday after services were moved to the parish center.

1940 – February. The treasurer sends a letter to the parish indicating that the parish will not be able to continue without greater support. Salaries were up to 2 years behind, a bank loan was required to meet obligations. Father Pierce resigned to accept a position in Philadelphia in 1941.

1960 – November 20. A devastating fire destroyed the Elizabeth Street church building. Because the site had no room for expansion or parking, the vestry decided to sell the lot and purchase land at the edge of the village on Oswego Street (NYS Rt. 48).

1962 – November The present church building with sacristy and an Undercroft and kitchen was completed and furnished with some of the artifacts recovered from the old church, including the altar table itself, pulpit, brass lectern, processional and altar crosses, candlesticks and other objects.

1971 – A Holtkamp pipe organ was installed in the church

1974 – Parish Center building was added to provide classroom and office space. The structure is based on a raised ranch plan, with the addition of an enclosed entry way enclosing the parish center entrance steps and accessing the stairwell to the church and undercroft.

1978 – The steeple on the 1962 church building was not part of the original architect’s design, but was added in order to house the restored church bell from the old building. Persistent leaking imperiled the organ and attempted solutions failed to remedy the problem, so the steeple was removed.

1980 – The church bell was installed on the church grounds adjacent to what later became the Memorial Garden, and an electric ringer system operated from inside the church was added to allow the bell to be rung before church services.

1985 – After twenty-five years in storage, the only two stained glass windows salvaged from the narthex of the Elizabeth Street church were restored and installed in the nave of the 1962 church. Reproductions of those windows were created to fill the remaining window spaces.

1985 – A landscaped Memorial Garden was designed and installed on the north side of the church building to provide a place for direct burial of cremated remains in a designated location, without urn or other container. A bronze plaque on the wall of the church lists the names of those interred, and a second plaque lists those memorialized but whose remains are interred elsewhere.

1999 – A lighted Rose Window was added to the east wall of the church above the cross and dossal curtain.

2001 – The Welcome Area was added to the street side of the church, greatly expanding the narrow ‘60’s narthex and providing a generous and light-filled space suited to coffee hour, small receptions and occasional liturgical use. Also added were an accessible restroom, a catering closet and a small elevator to the Undercroft. Lower level additions include a nursery, a conference room, another accessible restroom, and storage.

2003 – The Welcome Area was enhanced by the addition of the needlepoint Holy Spirit tapestry, designed by artist Catherine Kapikian and stitched by members of the parish.

2013 – A new high-efficiency boiler system was installed.

2016 – A handmade folding oak and maple portable altar for outdoor and other services was built and gifted to the parish by the rector’s brother-in-law Michael G. Cullen. Energy-efficient double-pane vinyl replacement windows were installed in the Parish Center building.

2017 – A state-of-the art sound system including remote monitors in the Welcome Area, Undercroft and Nursery, and hearing assertive devices was purchased and installed in the church in memory of John and Pat McFall by their children John S., Laura and Carrie, and in memory of Alan C. Sward and other departed members of Grace Church.

The Clergy of Grace Episcopal Church

The Rev’d Richard Salmon   1833 – 1835  Missionary

The Rev’d George B. Engle   1838 – 1841  Missionary

The Rev’d Theodore M. Bishop   1850 – 1854   Missionary

The Rev’d Henry Gregory   1860 – 1864   Missionary

The Rev’d William Martin Beauchamp   1865 – 1900  Rector

The Rev’d W.H. Bean   1900 – 1901  Rector

The Rev’d Julian A. Ramsdell   1901 – 1907  Rector

The Rev’d James Malcolm-Smith   1907 – 1913  Rector

The Rev’d Charles S. Champlin   1914 – 1929  Rector

The Rev’d Roderic Pierce   1930 – 1940  Rector

The Rev’d Cedric C. Bentley   1941 – 1942  Supply

The Rev’d William A. Braithwaite   1942 – 1944   Supply

The Rev’d John E. Daley   1945 – 1948  Rector

The Rev’d George Entwisle   1949 – 1959  Rector

The Rev’d George R. Dawson   1960 – 1965  Rector

The Rev’d Bruce R. Hill   1965 – 1976  Rector

The Rev’d H. William Foreman   1976 – 1977  Interim Rector

The Rev’d Ladd K. Harris   1977 – 1995  Rector

The Rev’d D. Berry 1995 Supply

The Rev’d Harold D. Avery 1996 Supply

The Rev’d John A. Shaffer   1996 – 2003  Rector

The Rev’d Timothy S. Reger   2004 – 2010  Rector

The Rev’d Naomi S. Sorrwar-Randall (ELCA) 2010 – 2012 Interim Pastor

The Rev’d Kathryn S. Corley   2012-2015  Interim Rector

The Rev’d Catherine E. Carpenter   2015   Rector