Christ Episcopal Church, of Sackets Harbor, dates back in its history to May 14, 1821, when an informal meeting was assembled to discuss the subject of a church, and when Elisha Camp, Samuel O. Auchmuty, William Kendall, Robert M. Harrison and John McCarty were chosen a committee to look to the interests of the proposed society until a vestry should be regularly constituted. The legal and formal organization was accomplished August 6, 1821, with Henry Moore Shaw, rector; wardens Zeno Allen and Elisha Camp; and vestrymen, Robert M. Harrison, Samuel O. Auchmuty, William Kendall, John McCarty, Hiram Steele, Thomas J. Angell, Hiram Merrill and Thomas Y. Howe.

        The first who officiated and preached here was Bishop Hobart, who, in his reports, records having visited Sackets Harbor thursday afternoon, September 14, 1821. A church organization was formed September 29, 1821, when at a meeting of the vestry it was voted to give Henry Moore Shaw $600 a year, which he accepted, and subsequently served as first rector of the church.

        In 1822, a subscription was circulated to obtain the means for erecting a church. William Warring, Elisha Camp, William M. Robbins, Samuel F. Hooker, William M. Sands, Samuel O. Auchmuty, and Robert M. Harrison, subscribed sums of $100 and upwards, for erection of the church. The corner stone was laid May 26, 1823, with masonic ceremonies, on a lot donated by Augustus Sacket, but was not completed till after several years of delay. Meetings were held regularly in the Presbyterian Church across the street, and in the school house, until the occupancy of the stone edifice in 1826. The structure was fully completed in 1832.

        From that time the church has maintained a continued existence, although the number of communicants has never been large. In 1852, the church reported 44 families (79 adults, and 53 children) as belonging to the congregation, and 54 belonging to the church. In 1854 it was receiving a small stipend from Trinity Church, New York. Until that year the Rev. Messrs. M. Beardsley, William L. Keese, A. C. Treadway, Mr. Noble, Benjamin Wright, Jr., Rufus D. Stearns, and G. Huntington, were all successfully employed here as missionaries. In 1898, membership numbered 70, with wardens E. P. Evert and Benjamin C. Scroxton, Rev. Burr M. Weeden, Rector.

        Today, the church is recognized as one of the most important ecclesiastical buildings in Jefferson County, both for its architectural quality and its early use of Gothic detailing. The building reflects a traditional pattern for 18th-century churches, with a square belfry over a columned portico; in fact it closely resembles a design from The Modern Builder's Guide by Federal architect Asher Banjamin. As with other stone buildings at Sackets Harbor, squared quoins were used to reinforce and accent the corners as well as door and window openings. The church's major distinguishing feature is its Gothic arches, one of the first such uses in the North Country; at the time of construction, the Gothic was increasingly favored as a style better suited ecclesiastical buildings than the "pagan" classical style. The great Doric portico resembles that of the Dyer Burnham House and foreshadowing the coming Greek Revival movement.

        Services are presently held on Saturdays and Sundays.


Sources Quoted

Emerson, Edgar C., "Our County and Its People." Boston: Boston History Company, 1898, p. 593.

Haddock, John A., "The Growth of a Century," Philadelphia: Sherman & Co., 1894, p. 593.

Hough, Franklin B., "A History of Jefferson County in the State of New York," Watertown, NY: Sterling & Riddell, 1854, p. 189.

Sullivan, Michael D., "Harbor Walk: A Guide to the History & Architecture of Sackets Harbor." Presented with permission of the Sackets Harbor Historical Society. p. 21.


© 2001, Mark A. Wentling