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200-year-old Waddington church needs major repairs

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WADDINGTON – St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 129 Lincoln Ave., reputed to be the oldest church north of the Mohawk River, west of Route 81 and east of Route 87, will turn 200 years old next year.

And church members say the church is showing its age.

Outside the parish house, which serves a Sunday school and meeting room, bricks are decaying. Inside, the building’s walls and windowsills have rotted, and a roof leak has caused extensive water damage to the walls and floor.

The cost of repairs is estimated between $90,000 and $100,000.

Repairs to prevent further damage to the roof took place last week at a cost of roughly $12,000. A new electrical system was also installed earlier this spring for $2,000.

“There’s still quite a bit of work ahead of us,” The Rev. Arthur S. Garno, deacon vicar, said Thursday. “It’s not something we expect to complete in a year. Repairs are slow because the church has seen limited funds for building maintenance.”

Within the church proper, eight stained glass windows are in need of restoration. Restoration of each window is estimated between $25,000 and $50,000, with a $125,000 to $150,000 price tag for all eight windows. Rev. Garno said that since the church itself is a historic landmark, church members plan to apply for a grants to restore stained glass windows and repair the church roof.

Though officially recognized as a parish in 1818, the church was open for worship in 1813, and plans to celebrate its official 200th anniversary next year.

“Restoring the church is important for Waddington in general,” said Rev. Garno. “There has been a major revitalization effort in the downtown area, including a new gazebo, and we’d like to see the church become a part of that.”

Rev. Garno said the first project will be the restoration of the Parish House windows, which is estimated at roughly $5,000.

St. Paul’s is the mother church to the St. John’s Episcopal churches in Ogdensburg and in Massena. A clericus, formed of the clergy from all three churches, will help raise money to repair the church.

Jamie E. Grossman, 15, a parishioner who will be receiving her confirmation this year, has also joined the effort. As part of her confirmation service project, she will be holding a dinner to help raise money for the church.

A lasagna dinner will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. today at the American Legion, Fenton Street. Adult dinners are $8, children’s are $5.

“Our church St. Paul is in desperate need to replace stained glass roof and the roof is in bad shape,” said Ms. Grossman. “It’s the oldest church in the north country and we don’t think many people know that. We recognize that and we also want to raise awareness about the church itself.”

“These problems are not unique to our church,” said Rev. Garno. “Many of the smaller churches are facing these problems as well, and will have to undergo major fundraising efforts well within future generations in order to save these historic buildings. And that’s what we are working towards.”

Donations sent to P.O. 452, Waddington, N.Y., 13694, marked “Restoration Fund” will be put directly into the church’s restoration fund.

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