Centuries-old church becomes handicapped-accessible

Donna Denison walks from the Meeting House to the Sanctuary via the new pass-through at Cazenovia Presbyterian Church.

Centuries-old church becomes handicapped-accessible

Cazenovia’s Presbyterian Church is the oldest church in Madison County. It stands as an icon to the beliefs and aspirations of early and mid-nineteenth-century Cazenovians.

The congregation itself was formed in 1799 with Joshua Leonard as its first pastor. It took seven years to establish the congregation and raise funds for the building. The church was designed by renowned Albany architect Philip Hooker and built by Nathan Smith of New Woodstock.

The church was originally located in 1806 on the north side of the green, fronting Hurd Street, to be far away from the haunts of civilization ”…far from the tents of joy and hope…” that is, the local taverns.

When it became apparent that the activity and commercial center of the village were concentrating on the Albany Street green, the church fathers picked up and moved the church in 1826 to its present location on Albany Street, where the church now rests.

Now in 2018, this 200-plus-year-old church is due to become 100-percent handicapped-accessible. The steps from the sanctuary to the meeting house have been removed, and a wide doorway now goes directly from the sanctuary to the meeting house. The work is being done by Steve Riedel Construction.

Custom molding was made to match the existing molding of the chancel in the church by Dale Cornue. A faux door was built to the right side of the chancel to give balance to the new real doorway.

In addition to the “pass-through” project, a totally handicapped-accessible family restroom will be redesigned from the existing women’s restroom. Other existing toilets in the meeting house required the use of stairs.

Funding for this project has come from members of the Presbyterian Church, but also though memorial donations in honor of Karl Monson (daughter of Sharye Skinner and son-in-law Dick Tuttle); Gabe Kinney (husband of Carla Kinney) and Ann Harries (daughter of Susie Grills and son-in-law Russ Grills). The Kinney Drug Foundation gave a donation in honor of their employee, Gabe Kinney.

The First Presbyterian Church is still accepting donations to make this church 100-percent accessible. This 200-plus structure is finally coming into the 21st century. Checks can be sent to Caz Pres Church Pass-Through Project. All donations are 100-percent tax-deductible.

A formal ribbon-cutting celebration will be held when all the work is complete, but if you would like to see the progress the church is making, stop by sometime between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday or come to Sunday worship at 10 a.m.

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