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Visiting First Congregational Church, Malone, New York: Norman-Romanesque Monumentality by Tristram Griffin, 1884

Updated on June 28, 2022
State flag of New York
State flag of New York | Source
First Congregational Church, Malone, New York
First Congregational Church, Malone, New York | Source
Main street in Malone, Franklin County, New York
Main street in Malone, Franklin County, New York | Source

Solidity and permanence exemplified

First Congregational Church, Malone, New York, is situated in Clay Street, in this administrative centre of Franklin County. The architect responsible was Tristram Griffin, of Boston, Massachusetts (1). The imposing — indeed, monumental — architectural style is described as Norman-Romanesque, and undoubtedly reflects Richardsonian influence (2).

A combination of building materials was used, including Norwood blue limestone; this was complemented by Canton granite and terra cotta. Noted features include the building's imposing tower, and a series of conspicuous, rounded turret tops, emphasizing the structure's Romanesque flavour.

A predecessor to First Congregational's building of 1884 was the Old Stone Church, built 1827: the first, known church structure in Franklin County, New York.

The original Congregational group in Malone is said to have been started in 1807; it would meet variously in private residences, a barn or the local courthouse. When the congregation's first minister first arrived in Malone in 1802, the settlement consisted of a few log houses.

In the mid-19th century, the congregation is known to have played a substantial rôle in the Underground Railroad; this was made particularly acute, given the relative proximity of the border with the former Upper and Lower Canada.

William A. Wheeler, Vice President of the United States 1877-1881, was a member of the congregation.

From the 1850s to the 1880s, the Congregationalists met in the Red Brick Church, but they were soon desirous of a bigger building. (I wonder if they all knew that the finished product would be so monumental?) In any case, the tower of the building even today dominates Malone's skyline.

May 29, 2012


(1) Other works for which Architect Griffin is known include the YMCA, Malden, Mass., and large private houses in his home state.

(2) Named for Henry Hobson Richardson, who popularised Romanesque style in the late 19th century.

Also worth seeing

In Malone itself, a historical plaque outside the former William A. Wheeler residence commemorates a the 19th US Vice President, who served in that office between 1877 and 1881.

Titus Mountain (distance: 11 kilometres), situated in the Adirondacks, is particularly noted for its ski slope.


How to get there:

Plattsburgh International Airport (distance to Malone : 86.2 kilometres), where car rental is available, is served by a variety of airlines, including US Air, which flies to Boston, with many North American connections. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.


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