7057 Chili Riga Ctr. Rd.
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First Congregational Church of Riga. Church society started 1806, Building erected 1823, copy of Hinsdale, Mass. church
By the County of Monroe — Date unknown.
What was there
An empty lot of the old town of Pultney, which split into the towns of Riga and Chili on April 4, 1809. This land was set aside for education and religious purposes by the broker for the Pultney estate, who felt it would attract more property buyers to the township. While some books refer to the church by the name “First Congressional” being formed in 1809, meetings took place here as early as the first settlers to the Riga Center under the name “Congregational Society of West Pultney” in 1806, with Nehemiah Frost, Samuel Church, Amasa Frost, Samuel Baldwin, Elihu Church, and Henry Brewster as trustees.
The property was originally 200 acres, and first contained a simple schoolhouse just to the east of where the present church stands. Educational and religious services were performed in the schoolhouse. The church building was erected in 1823, and based on a design of a Hinsdale, Massachusetts church, as several of the town’s earliest setters were from Massachusetts.
What is there now
The original 200 acre property has been subdivided. The old schoolhouse is gone. The church now operates as The First Congregational Church of Riga, UCC, and is surrounded by residential and farmland. The church building is the oldest church in Monroe County.
An excerpt from “History of Monroe County, New York” by W. H. McIntosh (1877) reads:
THE FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF RIGA was organized December 9, 1809 at Riga Centre, by Rev Oliver Ayres, with the following named persons as first members, viz : Nehemiah Frost, Henry Brewster, John Barber, Benjamin Kneeland, Elizabeth Frost, Rebecca Brewster, Lois Baldwin, Sally Barber, Susanna Wallis, Elizabeth Buel, and Rebecca Frost. The first pastor was Rev Allen Hollister, and the first deacon was Nehemiah Frost. The services of the church were held in the school house at Riga Centre for nearly fourteen years, or until the erection of their church building in 1823. It is a wooden structure forty by sixty feet in size, erected at a cost of about three thousand dollars, and is located at the Centre. Its present minister is Rev Isaac R. Bradnach, and clerk Alfred Fitch. It has no other officers. The number of acting members at present is thirty two. A Sabbath school has been connected with it from a very early date —at least as early as the church edifice was erected and probably many years previous. This is one of the earliest churches organized west of the Genesee river, the First Baptist church of Parma antedating it a few months only, from May 27 of the same year. Like all the earliest church organizations its records are imperfect, while many of them are lost
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