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First Presbyterian Church, cemetery achieve historic milestone

Sat, May 4th 2019 07:00 am
First Presbyterian Church of Lewiston.
First Presbyterian Church of Lewiston.

After a lengthy application process, the First Presbyterian Church, and the cemetery beside it, are one step closer to achieving a coveted milestone: Designation to the National Register of Historic Places.

During the past week, the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Morgan of the First Presbyterian Church, at South Fifth and Cayuga streets in Lewiston, received a letter from R. Daniel Mackay, deputy state historic preservation officer for New York State Parks. The letter announced the State Review Board, with the concurrence of the State Historical Preservation Office, agreed to place the properties on the New York State Register of Historic Places.

Mackay wrote, “We shall now forward the nomination to the Keeper of the National Register in Washington, DC.”

It is anticipated that the National Register will make a decision within weeks.

“This is huge news for Lewiston and in particular to the First Presbyterian Church,” said Harry Wright, former chairman of the Village of Lewiston Historical Preservation Commission. Wright was instrumental in obtaining the village’s approval for the application, since the municipality owns the cemetery next to the Presbyterian Church.

With the sponsorship of church member Joanne Collins, the congregation retained the services of preservation expert Tom Yots, who specializes in historical grants and applications. The detailed process took about a year.

Inclusion on the registers protects the church and cemetery from any changes that would compromise historical integrity.

Louise Wasko, office administrator for the church, said, “It took a lot of teamwork and effort, but it paid off. We are so proud to get this official designation and know how important this is for all of Lewiston. We hope our church stands proudly for hundreds of years as testament to the value our community places on its past.”

“This is excellent news,” HPC Vice Chairwoman Loretta Frankovitch said at Monday’s meeting. “It’s good news that it’s been approved by the state, so thank you everyone for helping with that application.”

Other locations in Lewiston that are on the National Register include the Frontier House; the Lewiston Mound, which is the 2,000-year-old native burial site at Artpark; and the Lower Landing Archeological District.

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