A church in Lewis County serves, in a sense, as a time machine.
Many features installed years ago in the West Martinsburg Methodist Church remain. Reviewing some of the items inside the structure becomes a stroll through the church’s history.
“An original 1832 meeting house of worship near the West Martinsburg four corners was replaced in 1840 with a new house of worship on the West Martinsburg site. The West Martinsburg Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church was formed, and Lobdell Wood, Henry McCarty, Moses Talmadge, Norman Gowdy, Henry Miller, Henry Curtis, Noah Harger and Moses Smith served as trustees. The deed to the property was gifted to the trustees by John Curtis,” according to a story published April 25 by the Watertown Daily Times. “The 1840 West Martinsburg Methodist Episcopal Church served the community for more than 100 years. Significant changes were made to the church through the years. By 1888, a new bell had been installed; stained-glass windows were added; and the church was painted. A balcony had been removed, and the pulpit was placed at the opposite end of the building. Seats that had been under the balcony were turned to face the pulpit.
“Since these changes, the sanctuary has changed very little. The church remains without electricity. In 1983, the West Martinsburg Methodist Episcopal Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places,” the article reported. “The church still has its working Estey pump organ. The ceilings and upper walls have been hand-stenciled in the original pattern. Suspended pipes run the length of each side of the sanctuary to provide heat from the two wood stoves located at the rear of the sanctuary. An early 1832 Bible is on display in the museum portion of the church along with the Bible that belonged to John Curtis. Kerosene lanterns on each side of the front entry are hung on original hand-forged hooks. A step for getting down from a carriage or wagon is still in its location near the entry doors.”
Dwindling membership during the 1940s and ’50s compelled church officials to discontinue services. But the church remains an essential component of the history of this region, and seeing it survive is a worthy goal. Residents are raising money to restore the church’s steeple.
“The West Martinsburg Methodist Church remains an important building in the history of the town of Martinsburg and the historic four corners in West Martinsburg. Oversight of the church now belongs to The Preservation Society for the West Martinsburg Church,” according to the story. “In 2019, emergency repairs were made to the steeple to temporarily stabilize the structure and allow time for fundraising efforts. The steeple repair needs are extensive and costly. The first phase of the repairs to the steeple will begin in the spring of 2023 using proceeds from fundraising efforts along with assistance from the Northern New York Community Foundation and the Pomeroy Foundation.”
An online auction will be held until 6 p.m. Tuesday; items up for bid may be viewed by visiting wdt.me/A7dWne. Auction items can be picked up between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. May 11 or from 3 to 7 p.m. May 12 at West Martinsburg Town Hall, 6994 West Road. Cash or checks only will be accepted for payment; no shipping is available.
To assist help with repairs or to obtain additional information, contact the Society for the Preservation of the West Martinsburg Church at P.O. Box 85, Martinsburg, NY 13404-0085.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.