2 ‘Sacred Sites’ open for tours

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2013 at 12:00 am

Pullman Memorial and Presbyterian also featured on Sunday

Photos by Tom Rivers – The pipe organ inside the Pullman Memorial Universalist Church includes gold leaf stencils.

ALBION – Two historic churches in Albion are part of a state-wide “Sacred Sites” tour this weekend.

The First Presbyterian Church and Pullman Memorial Universalist Church were open today from noon to 3 p.m. and will be open for tours during the same time on Sunday.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy coordinated the third annual “Sacred Sites” tour in New York. The event aims to raise public appreciation for the churches as community treasures with stained-glass windows, pipe organs, ornately carved pews, decorative paintings and murals.

I stopped by the Pullman building today and will feature the church in an upcoming “Sandstone Heritage.” The church was built in 1894 from local Medina sandstone. It has 41 stained-glass windows from the famed Tiffany stained-glass windows including “Christ the Consoler,” which looks like a three-dimensional image of Jesus with outstretched arms.

Today I was most interested in the Johnson pipe organ, which was decorated in gold leaf stencils by the Tiffany company. It is a striking work of art, and I didn’t even get to hear it play today. I couldn’t stay long and a woman from Buffalo was on the tour. I didn’t want to be a distraction.

The First Presbyterian Church spent $300,000 on an interior restoration in 2008, a project that included repairs to the rose window. The church also removed tiles and restored the original plaster ceiling.

The Presbyterian Church is full of shock and awe. From the outside, the church built in 1874, reaches 175 feet high. It’s impressive, but the inside may be even more dramatic.

The congregation spent $300,000 five years ago in a sanctuary restoration that removed ceiling tiles to showcase the original ceiling. The dominant stained-glass rose window also was repaired in the extensive interior project.

The two churches have committed to being open on Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to noon from May 22 until the end of summer. The churches want to be available for canal visitors and community members who want to stop in to pray and tour the sites.