Danforth Congregational Church

History Tuesday – The Lost Danforth Congregational Church of Syracuse

History Tuesday at Old Houses Under $50K is for informational purposes only and focuses on beautiful structures that were built for less than $50,000 back in the day. They are usually not for sale, and if they were, they would certainly cost way more than $50K. Today we are featuring the Danforth Congregational Church of Syracuse.

On September 5, 1884, the cornerstone of the Danforth Congregational Church was laid on a large lot in a “very pleasant and growing suburb.”  The brick gabled church, with a low octagonal tower on the north side, a taller tower with a spire on the south, buttressed piers and triple stained glass windows, was built at a cost of $15,000.  The church grew quickly and had a membership of more than 200 families by 1890.

 

After many years, the congregation dwindled, church services were cancelled, and the structure became a youth center for a while before the doors and windows were finally boarded up.

 

In 1972, Syracuse Mayor Lee Alexander turned over the abandoned building at 1641 S. Salina St. to Rev. James Jones and his congregation with the stipulation that the structure be used for religious purposes. The good reverend took off the boards, put his own money into the building and established the New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ. Rev. Jones led the congregation until his death in 1992. Then his wife kept the congregation going for five more years.

 

 

Over the decades, however, the historic building, which was in poor condition to begin with, fell into further disrepair, and the fire marshal deemed it uninhabitable.  The rear addition, which had been constructed in 1899, had already collapsed, and the fire department was concerned that with snow and rain, the rest of the building would follow. Costs of repairs and winter heating bills of $2,500 were prohibitive, so the congregation was ordered by the city to leave the premises.  The fire commissioner felt so bad about it that instead of sending the usual registered letter, he personally delivered the news. It was not long after, that the City of Syracuse demolished the historic church. The site is now an empty lot.

 

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