2011-04-08 / Columnists

Historical Views of the Rockaways

The Russel Sage Memorial First Presbyterian Church Of Far Rockaway
From The Rockaway Museum Commentary by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

This picture postcard was found recently at a postcard show held at the New Yorker in Manhattan. It is an excellent photo card of the Russel Sage/First Presbyterian Church, located at 1324 Beach 12 Street (off Central Avenue) in Far Rockaway.

The card describes the detail of the pulpit of the church when it first opened its doors in 1910. The Presbyterians of Far Rockaway first banded together in 1887, after a meeting was held at the home of Mrs. Mary D. Wells on White Street (now Beach 21 Street). It was arranged that services and prayer meetings be held at a place called Temperance Hall on Mott Avenue in Far Rockaway (location unknown). Later, services were moved to the Village Hall located next to the or just to the South of the present firehouse on Central Avenue.

The congregation was formally constituted as a church in January, 1888, and the New York Times announced in its Long Island column that the cornerstone of a new church was laid near the present intersection of Nameoke Avenue and Augustina Avenue. The wood frame church opened in mid to late 1889 and mention was made in the early 1890 issues of the New York Tribune. The present church building was built with funds and land donated by Margaret Olivia Sage, widow of Russel Sage, as a memorial to her husband. Sage was one of the early railroad millionaire magnets interested in speculation and development of beach areas here in the Rockaways.

The old church was taken over by the German Evangelical congregation in 1910, and still stands as the Arverne Church of God. The old German church in the same area as the Old Church (Presbyterian) was sold to the Black Congregation in Far Rockaway, and was opened as the Bethel A.M.E. Church of God in 1911. Yours truly is looking for an old photo of the German church before it was sold and a photo of the old A.M.E. Church of God in 1911. Anybody have one?

The card also shows the Teddy Roosevelt Memorial tree planted on the Sage memorial grounds, in October of 1919.

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