First Presbyterian Church
The First Presbyterian Church in New Hartford, the oldest church in the western end of the Mohawk Valley, was organized more than two centuries.
Although the church was founded under the Congregational plan, it has been Presbyterian since 1802.
At a June 20, 1791 meeting, it was voted that a stake standing in a stump a few rods south of Ezekiel William's dwelling, 'shall be the spot for erecting a meeting house'.
The organizer was the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Edwards Jr., usually styled "The Younger Edwards," to distinguish him from his grandfather who was president of Princeton College.
It was in Judge Sanger's barn on a Saturday afternoon, August 27, 1791 that the church was organized. A committee was named. A singular entry is contained in the church minutes relating to the raising of the church. It reads: "The Society to be at the expense of raising said house in every respect except the liquor and master workman."
Dr. Edwards was a circuit rider whose home was in West Haven, Conn. He was called to the organization meeting and 13 settlers were delegated to sign the Articles of Faith, and also the agreement to found the "First Religious Society in Whitestown."
Whitestown, incidentally, is known to historians as the "Mother of Towns" because it extended from Fonda west for an unknown distance. At the time nothing was known of this country west of the Appalachian Mountains. By 1791 there were enough families in the New Hartford area to warrant the founding of a church.
Originally the church faced South St., (now Oxford Road) and was approached by a long walkthrough the village green. The building was enclosed by late fall and religious services were conducted within the incomplete building that winter. The interior, however, was not completed until about 1797 when the church was dedicated.
The sanctuary today is that same building with the same towering spire. The interior, however, was turned about a quarter turn at the time of extensive alterations in 1827.
Until about 1850 there had been a gallery in three large sections. The church always has been a very progressive one, and as rapidly as new inventions came along, they were installed for the comfort and convenience of the worshipers