Hillsdale United Methodist Church
Friday, May 24, 2013
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
History of the Hillsdale United Methodist Church
Original Church built in 1876
Hillsdale Methodists began holding regular Sunday morning services in the railroad director's room on the second floor of the depot on December 24, 1873. Good preachers were engaged and an organ obtained to aid in the singing. The following February, a 'Grand Concert" was given by friends in the depot meeting room for the benefit of the church group, at which about $200.00 was raised.
The Hillsdale United Methodist Church was formally organized by the society on Sunday, May 3, 1874 under the name 'Hillsdale Methodist Episcopal Church' by the Rev. John E. Switzer of Allendale.
Those serving on the first official board were Isaac I. Cole, Abraham A. Post, Simon Mead, James S. Ruckman, James J. Monfort, Robert Boyd, Abraham A. Hopper and Charles Marsh. The First regular pastor was the Rev. Elam M. Garton who was appointed in 1875. A joint pastorate was maintained with Park Ridge until 1976; and with Middletown (Pearl River), until 1899.
The original church was built in 1876 on a plot of land at the southwest intersection of Hillsdale and Magnolia Avenues donated by David P. Patterson. The first parsonage, was located at 355 Hillsdale Avenue, was built in 1884 and served as the residence of the pastors until the present parsonage at 339 Hillsdale Avenue was acquired in 1955.
The old church, built in the Victorian style of that period, was enlarged in 1911 and later modernized. The church consisted of a rectangular shaped sanctuary, about 30 by 30 feet in size, with a square entrance vestibule and belfry at the northwest corner. The first seats were wooden pews which seated four. The pews were all detached and could be rearranged and grouped for Church School classes, and removed entirely when the auditorium was used for suppers and fairs.
Heat was supplied by a hot air furnace, and light from kerosene lamps set in wall brackets. In September of 1889, the first bell was purchased for $120.00 provided by private subscriptions. When it was rung for the first time on Tuesday, September 17, 1889, it could be heard a mile away. It was described as having a remarkably mellow and deep tone for its size. (That bell hangs in the front of our church today.)
Horse sheds were erected at the southwest part of the plot, facing to the east, to which a carriage drive led from Hillsdale Avenue. A frame privy stood near the south side of the church.
The final service held in the old church was Good Friday, April 8, 1955. The first service in our current sanctuary, located across the street, was held a week later, on Easter Sunday, April 15th.
The old church building was sold in 1961 to the Fulton Temple Association. But before the deal was completed, the building was damaged by fire on the morning of March 4th. As a result, the building was razed, the church maintained ownership of the property, and a parking lot was built.
The new building was subsequently enlarged by the addition of an auditorium and church school facilities in 1960, and by a further educational area in 1967.