Watertown church open since 1871

WATERTOWN-The Watertown United Presbyterian Church has been a staple in Watertown since before 1871.

Martin Mindling, 66, of Watertown, said the original church building was built 40 years before the current one.

“(The church) stands at the site of a previous Presbyterian congregation established in 1831,” he said. “It’s been there a long time…(The current building) cost $1,500 to build at that time.”

Mindling said the cemetery next door includes the graves of many Revolutionary and Civil War veterans.

Robert Davis, 51, an elder at the church, said the church has never changed locations or names. He said the entry has an interesting past.

“I’m almost positive men would use one door and women would use the other,” he said.

Mindling said the gas lamps in the foyer and near the pulpit were once a vital part of services.

“The building was originally lighted with the kerosene lamps, and we still have them,” he said.

Davis said there used to be more than the few that are once again hanging in the church.

“We’ve converted one of them to electric and it’s now in the foyer,” he said. “There used to be four, but we only have three.”

Mindling said the lamps came from the Cleveland Nonexplosive Lamp Company and they cost about $3.50 at the time. He said the glass chimneys were hard to find.

“Nobody makes that exact size of glass chimney,” he said. “We found a company in Czechoslovakia. They’re made out of solid brass.”

Davis said the building has been going through some upgrades, including the installation of insulation and storm windows. Despite the work, Davis said the church is mostly original.

“It’s the original flooring,” he said. “It’s actually the original windows. There’s been a couple series of upgrading the windows…You can open the windows now. It’s the original foundation; we only had a little bit of foundation work done. It’s been pretty sturdy. I think the slate is the original roofing too.”

The stained glass windows were put in during 1910 and cost about $150 total, said Mindling. He said the regulator clock was put in around 1904 and it’s hung in the same place for 110 years.

“It keeps perfect time,” he said.

Davis said the bell tower was built so the bell could be removed, but he is unsure what the congregation would do if the bell ever has to be removed again.

“The original tracks and runners and pulley system still exists,” he said. “(The bell) (weighs) an enormous amount of weight. Some of the beams, of course are hand-hewn.”

He said the structure is built similarly to a covered bridge.

“The structure has knee braces,” Davis said. “When we insulated the church, we had a hard time. It’s built into the walls. It was the typical build at that time.”

Services at the church are held for around 30 people every Sunday at 8:45 a.m.