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Excerpt From The Address of The Hon. Charles Pettingill


Chapter XIX
The Church Building
      It stands on land purchased from William J. Boardman and others for $200.00.  although the deed was passed after the building was completed, the bargain must have been made previously.  The land originally had been in the Goodwin family; Boardman's mother, who was one of the grantors, was the widow of Joseph Boardman.

      A society was organized to build the church.  It met for organization in the vestry of the Rocky Hill Church, June 23, 1835....The necessary funds were raised by a subscription paper.
    
      The frame of the building was raised September 1, 1835 and the event is noted in Lowell Bagley's diary.  The building was completed in time for its dedication and the installation of the pastor, December 31, 1835. At that time the building had square pews and front and back galleries with a dark old fashioned pulpit.  It is possible that the building remained unpainted at first, as William Johston, one of the original members, told his grandson, Mr. Charles s. Grieves, that he painted it in 1840.
    
        In another part of this address reference is made to the vestry presented by Mr. Abner L. Bayley in 1864.  That vestry is the part of the present vestry which is nearest the Powow River.  Until 1892, the space between the church and the "new vestry" was occupied by an open horse-shed.  In the summer of that year the horse-shed was removed and in its place was built the present structure which joins the "new vestry" to the church and serves both for vestry purposes and Sunday School use.  

     May 20, 1918 came the fire at the Morrill coal wharf, now Alliance Park, which seriously damaged both church and parsonage.  It was a bright, clear day but very windy.  The fire started on the roof of a coal shet, from a spark from a hoisting engine.  It was a small matter, but the shingles were dry, and before a ladder could be located, the fire spread and wa quickly out of control.  The nearest fire alarm box was not far away, at the Ferry, but it turned out to be useless as the works had been removed for repairs.  The alarm had to be sent from another and more distant box, causing still further delay. 

     In the mean time the coal wharf had become a raging furnace, all of its sheds and other structures being on fire.  Just across from the church were two buildings, a dwelling house, occupied by one of our church members, Mrs. Mary  E. Blackstonk, and a smaller building used as an office.  Each of these was soon a roaring mass of flames. The wind which was blowing briskly from the wet, was driving the flames and sparks across the street just below the church, but the heat was so intense directly across from the wharf that it did not seem possible that the church could be saved.

     When the firemen arrived at the Ferry, they were unable, because of the heat, to get the apparatus across the bridge.  Hose lines were carried across the draw of the bridge by hand, and then dropped over the rail to the flats below, where in the shelter of the roadway, the lines were carried behind the vestry and then up the back of the church to its roof.  Firemen worked their way along the ridge pole to the steeple, where, first from behind it, and then later from the steeple itself, they carried on a successful fight to save the church buildings.

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