St. John's Episcopal Church

Church Architecture

Unique "carpenter" or "country" gothic architecture

We are a picturesque 19th century board-and-batten church overlooking the Niagara River, and are one of only a few remaining carpenter gothic churches in Western New York.   St. John's was placed on National Register of Historic Places 1990, and you can read the entire registration form here for a detailed explanation of the church architecture.  We have also been documented by the National Parks Service as part of the Historic American Building Survey (HABS.)  HABS is the Federal Government's oldest preservation program, and photographs of St. John’s can be found in the American Memory Collection on the Library of Congress website.

The Upjohn connection

Many of the original church records were lost, and we rely on oral history to piece together the history of the church building. For many years, the design of the church was attributed to notable 19th century architect Richard Upjohn, who designed St. Paul's Cathedral in Buffalo, NY and Trinity Episcopal Church in New York City. In recent years, new information has been uncovered, and it seems more likely that the church was designed by Upjohn's son, Richard Michell Upjohn.

A "kit" church?

It is also thought that the church was prefabricated at a lumber mill somewhere in the northeast, with local craftsmen and parishioners assembling the building.  Chalk markings believed to be assembly directions are still visible on the dark walls and ceilings.  A small original bell was replaced in 1884 by a larger one, forged at Troy Bell Works.  The bell may have been shipped down the Erie Canal, or perhaps by rail.  One of the early church members, Isaac Lloyd, was said to have transported the bell from the rest of the way to Youngstown using a horse drawn cart.

Preservation efforts

19 stained glass windows, representative of several eras and styles of church window design, bring light and color into the church.  Several of the oldest windows were recently restored, and parishioners have worked hard to ensure that the church is preserved for future generations. Though many years have passed and the world has changed dramatically, the church continues to be a link to our past and looks much like it did in 1878.

The church recently completed a building condition study, which has helped the parish plan for future preservation work.  The document may be viewed here.