The following items were transcribed from a 1979 Anniversary Edition of the Evening Times.
" Waverly's 125th " Sept. 17, 1979
Waverly's churches are certainly among the community's most impressive buildings with many of them being built well before the turn of the century.
The pioneer settlers built no such fine buildings for the purpose of worship - using kitchens, barns, whatever for their informal religious meetings.
They depended upon the many itinerant preachers and missionaries who made infrequent visits prior to 1800. Classes met as early as 1800 at the home of John Hanna in Ellistown.
From that group, led by Hanna, came Emory Chapel, the area's oldest church building. Erected in 1833, it has been maintained and kept in good repair for 146 years by a small group of dedicated area residents.
Another class, with Elishama Tozer as leader, was formed in 1828 in Factoryville and built Fletcher Chapel on Ithaca Street in 1840. Organized as the Methodist Church, the chapel was used until 1864, when a new church was built approximately where the Post Office is located today. That church burned less than two years later and a new building was erected on Chemung Street in 1867.
The present church was built in 1914 of perfectly matched stone to replace the older structure. It has been extensively remodeled inside and out, with new roof and new entry steps being added in the early 1970's.
The present day Baptist Church was built in 1891, but it too had a beginning in the first years of settlement. Organized as the Baptist Church of Factoryville in 1824, a church was built on Ithaca Street in 1844.
This church, which is now the MacNaughton residence, was built by the pastor, Rev. A.B. Sotwell, who happened to be a mason as well as a preacher. The Baptists soon moved to the center of Waverly, erecting a frame church in 1865, which was later replaced by the present brick building.
Although not formally organized as Presbyterians until 1847, residents of Milltown and Factoryville met as early as 1828 and were recognized by the Susquehanna Presbytery.
Realizing that the Erie Railroad would prove an impetus to the growth of the new community of Waverly, in 1849, the Presbyterians built their first church on Pennsylvania Avenue when that street was merely a lane through open fields.
By 1886, a larger church was needed and the present building was constructed. The old church was removed to make way for the manse which was built in 1889.
The congregation is currently nearing the completion of an ambitious renovation project, which includes installation of a new heating system and new roofs on the church and manse., repairs to the steeple and renovation of the social hall and lounge. Special features for the handicapped have also been installed.
St James Roman Catholic Church is currently preparing for celebration of an important anniversary. The parochial school was opened just 25 years ago and was timed to coincide with the centennial of the church. The anniversary will be observed during Catholic Education Week next month.
Area Catholics were served by missionary priests until 1852 when St. James was organized and built a church on Erie Street. A priest divided his service between Owego and Waverly, until Waverly was made a separate charge in 1881.
The present site was purchased in 1863 and a church was built there in 1870. The St. James Church now standing was built in 1912, after fire destroyed the first building.
Extensive renovations were undertaken in 1974, including remodeling of the main alter, painting of the sanctuary and installation of a new roof.
The Episcopal Church on Park Avenue is Waverly's oldest church still in use today. Constructed shortly after the congregation was organized in 1853, it has been in continuous use for nearly 125 years.
Extensive repairs in 1968 included raising the church on a foundation, digging a basement for use as a social hall and installation of the stained glass windows.
Records indicate that a parish school was maintained during the 1870's, the building forming the rear portion of the rectory which was built in 1874.
Incorporated in 1895 as the " Union Christian Alliance of Barton ," the nondenominational North Waverly Chapel originated as a Sunday School in 1874.
The original chapel, built in 1911, was replaced in 1974. Continued growth of the membership necessitated an addition which was completed in 1952.
In March of 1964, the current Chapel was opened with the old building being rededicated as Hunter Hall, which is used today for classes and as a social hall.
Although meeting since 1895, the Christian and Missionary Alliance did not have a church until the present building was completed in 1919.
The building was enlarged in 1952, with the addition of a nursery and a new belfry. Extensive exterior remodeling was carried out at the same time.
Formed in 1941 to serve the Jewish families in the Valley area, the congregation had met informally for many years prior to their organization.
The congregation has maintained the building on Chemung Street since that year, undertaking remodeling and renovations in 144 and 1953.
This congregation located in the former Capital Theater since the early 1970's, has undertaken an extensive remodeling project of renovation which is in keeping with efforts to restore downtown Waverly.
Repairs to the roof and exterior along with restoration of the theater section and equipment have been carried out over the last two years. It has also been a period of reorganization of the church and its school.
This society was organized in 1950 and following location on Broad Street, began construction of their church at the corner of Lincoln and Chemung Streets.
All work was done by the pastor and members of the congregation. Completed in 1953, the building contains a full basement and youth sanctuary.
Additional space was created for parking in recent years with the acquisition of several properties adjacent to the church.
The first service held by the Faith Baptist congregation in its church at 20 Garfield Street. was on June 26, 1977. The church built in 1936 for the Pentacostal Assembly, was repaired following a fire in 1952.
Empty for several years, the building recently received extensive renovation including a new roof and painting, with the work being done by members of a visiting congregation from Georgia.
Located at 421 Waverly St., this is another new church in Waverly. First organized as a mission, in 1976, the church was formally established in March of 1977. It is affiliated with the national Church of God of Prophecy, which was founded in 1903.
The local congregation is growing and maintains rooms for classes and servies at its present location, with hopes of further expansion.
Note; Eloise Wilson adds;
Rev. Cecilla Williamson who with Rev. Jennie Samson came to Waverly from Omaha in 1894, intending to stay only a short time. They instead began preaching in a room on Tioga Street, later moving to Howard Street, finally moving to lower Broad Street, where they constructed a small church about 10 years after coming to this area.
Miss Williamson turned the first shovel of dirt for the new chapel and laid the first masonry for the cornerstone. The chapel was completed a few months after starting. The two women served their congregation until Miss Williamson died at 68 yrs. of age on Dec. 26, 1938 in the manse. She is buried in Forest Home cemetery. Miss Samson died in Binghamton, N.Y. June 22, 1943 at 82 yrs. of age. Her burial site is unknown to me.
The church was eventually demolished and the land sold.
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Ernie Miles...... This page was updated Wednesday, 26-Mar-2008 06:35:39 PDT.