All Saints Dedication September 2007 - photograph © 2007 Ithaca Journal
History of All Saints Parish
Andrew Myers arrived with his family at the mouth of Salmon Creek in 1794. The Cayuga Railroad was built around 1875 and its first stop out of Ithaca was the Ludlowville station at Myers Point. The railroad brought many new settlers to the area, including Frank and Brigit Gallagher. In May 1892 the first salt well was drilled. As the salt industry thrived, families from many different ethnic backgrounds moved into the area.
At the turn of the 20th century, there was still only one Catholic family in Myers, NY. Because the railroad did not run on Sundays, they used an old section-hand car to propel themselves to and from services in Ithaca. Later, wooden benches and an improvised altar were placed in a vacant tenant house owned by the Gallaghers. Father John Doran from St. Bernard's Church in Scipio Center provided services; sometimes his assistant pastor. Father Chapwe, would celebrate Mass in this house. When the house became occupied. the benches and altar were stored in a shed at the Gallaghers. On Sundays, the Galaghers' big dining room was cleared and the benches and altar brought in for mass. Father Francis Moffitt, assistant at Scipio, conducted the services. But as attendance increased, it was clear that this faith community needed its own worship space.
In 1910. James Cooney, the superintendent of the International Salt Company and a devout Catholic, began communicating with the Diocese of Rochester to establish a place of worship. Through the efforts of Mr. Cooney and Father Doran, and the good will of Bishop Thomas Francis Hickey, the Diocese acquired from David and Fred Barr for $175 a 75 x 140 foot piece of land on the south side of Myers Road as it slopes toward Cayuga Lake. Architect Mark Conklin of Auburn charged $80.50 to design the chapel and G.B. Styker completed the wooden structure at a cost of $2,000. The new church was blessed by Father Doran on March 23, 1913 and served the families of Ludowvilie, Myers, and Portland Point with 12 registered families.
First Church built in 1913.
A few months later, Our Lady of the Lake parish (King Ferry) became independent of Scipio and took All Saints as its mission church. Father Thomas O'Connor used a hand-powered cart on the railroad tracks between King Ferry and Lansing to service the two faith communities under his guidance. Over the next seventy years, Fathers Thomas O'Connor, Michael Groden, George Kalb, Theodore Winterroth, Albert
Geiger, John Newcomb, Joseph Maloney, Frederick Walz, and Richard Stanton served the two communities.
Over the next two decades, 29 marriages, 129 baptisms, 140 first communions and 91 confirmations were celebrated. All Saints had grown to more than 100 families and, consistent with its name, those families spanned 14 nationalities. In 1930, the chapel floor was painted, Mrs. Leo Hennick of Point Pleasant, NY, donated an organ, and a choir was formed. But the chapel was overcrowded and a larger worship space was needed. A 237 x 184 foot plot on the corner of Myers Road and Ridge Road (Highway 34B) was acquired from John and Katherine Uhrovich. On November 13, 1930, Rev. William Byrne, pastor of immaculate Conception in Ithaca, blessed the plot. Rev. John Crowley of Auburn gave the address and priests from Trumansburg and Scipio Center assisted.
Following Bishop Hickey's 1915 recommendation (apparently no one was in a hurry), All Saints was incorporated as a separate legal entity according to the laws of New York state on January 22, 1932, with Bishop John Francis O'Hern as its Director, Reverend George Kalb as its Pastor, and Michael Myskow and Michael Zifchock as Trustees. The land and partially completed church were transferred to the corporation.
Second Church built in 1933.
The last service in the Myers Road chapel was conducted on April 20, 1933 and two weeks later, Pastor George Kaib celebrated the first mass in the new church. On May 7, Bishop O'Hern dedicated the church and a solemn high mass was celebrated with the assistance of several priests from ithaca and Auburn. The clergy and out of town guests were served dinner at Our Lady of the Lake church hall in King Ferry.
Following the service of dedication, Bishop 0'Hern spoke to the congregation and congratulated Father Kalb and his parishioners for constructing such a fine church in these hard times (the Great Depression). He said he would return again soon; but it was not to be -- he died two weeks later.
The exterior of the new church was imitation brick. The interior was of Gothic design, measuring 70 feet by 30 feet, was painted cream and white, with oak pews. The nave sat 224 and another 20 could be seated in the choir loft. The high altar, built at the back of the sanctuary area (with the back of the priest to the congregation), was donated by Mrs. Brigit Gallagher in memory of her deceased husband. The recently
donated organ was moved to the new church. Statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph were moved from the little chapel to the new church after being restored by Florence Croft and Mrs. Joseph Uher. They are the same statues found today in the narthex of the new church. The new church cost approximately $10,000.
In 1958 the church was completely renovated. Both the exterior and interior were repainted, a new roof installed, and the pews received a fine coat of varnish. An additional strip of land facing Highway 34B was purchased from Joseph Uher to provide for future development. In the late 1970s, a rod used to keep the building from sagging outward was removed. The Church interior was redone, with a new superstructure in the roof area and covered with a wooden ceiling. The floor was carpeted and "new" pews from the King Ferry Church of the Brethren were installed.
Father Richard Stanton served as the pastor of Our Lady of the Lake and All Saints for 21 years. When he retired in 1983, ministerial responsibilities for All Saints were transferred to St. Catherine of Siena, where Father Michael Hogan was pastor. In 1987, Father Ronald Gaesser replaced Father Hogan and immediately began preparing All Saints to become a stand-alone parish. Gail Riina was appointed the first Pastoral Associate. Then, in 1994, Sister Mary Wintish became Pastoral Associate. She and Father Gaesser guided All Saints to become an independent parish in 1997. Sister Mary was appointed Pastoral Administrator (the second pastoral administrator in the Diocese of Rochester) and Fr. Larry Barnett became the Sacramental Minister.
About 1990 All Saints acquired the adjoining 9 acres between Myers Road and Salmon Creek from Mrs. Irving Jenkins, a relative of the Uher Family, at a very reasonable price. The trailer had been acquired years earlier and was located on the parking lot north of the Church. From time to time a visiting priest would take up occupancy. The "living room" was used for religious education and a prefab 1 5x20 addition provided space for meetings and served as an office.
During a very heavy snowstorm in the winter of 1993, the roof of the trailer collapsed. Some took it as a sign that it was time to build a parish center. A building and capital campaign committee set out to raise $175,000 from the 170 registered families and ended up with pledges of
$240,000. With these pledges, a bridge loan from Holy Sepulchre Cemetery Fund, and the accumulated savings from decades of
operations, All Saints constructed a $340,000 parish center. Designed by architect Thomas Schickel and constructed by a parishioner, Joseph Serico, the Parish Center included offices, five classrooms, a conference room, kitchen and large meeting room. The Center is 6,912 sq.ft. and was completed in 1995. Tables, chairs and dinnerware were purchased with separate fund raising activities ranging from candy sales (Sister Mary's favorite) to pancake breakfasts. The bridge loan was fully repaid by 2002.
With just over 200 families registered and attendance at mass exceeding the seating capacity of its church, All Saints and its new Pastor (Rev. Scott Kubinski) and Administrative Assistant (David Lippert), began planning to construct a second church in 2003. Architect Thomas Schickel developed alternative designs and locations and the parish voted to proceed in 2004. A capital campaign committee set out to raise $500,000 and ended up obtaining pledges for just over $700,000. This campaign, along with bridge loans from Holy Sepulchre and a few parishioners, a mortgage loan from Chemung Canal Trust Company, and about $150,000 of savings accrued overthe 2002-06 period, allowed All Saints to construct its new church at a total project cost of $1.7 million. The church is designed to seat almost 450 in the nave and about 40 in the choir area, double the size of the old church. The first mass was celebrated on June 3, 2007.
New Church built in 2007.
Long-range plans call for the old church to be maintained, with the west end to be preserved as a chapel and the east end to be converted into office spaces and a meeting room, so that the current offices in the Parish Center can be converted into classrooms, serving more than 170 youth of the parish. There are also plans to extend the north wall of the Center's great room to make it twice as large and connect the extended Center to the new church. We are not waiting for a collapse of a roof as a sign to do so.
Pictures of All Saints Church