Medina makes Episcopalian church a local landmark

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 December 2014 at 12:00 am

Congregation sought measure as way to protect building

File photos by Tom Rivers – St. John’s Episcopal Church was built in 1832, making it the oldest remaining church in Orleans County. The church was featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not as “The church in the middle of the street.” Church Street splits by the church near the intersection with East Center Street (Route 31).

MEDINA – The Medina Village Board approved local landmark status on Monday for St. John’s Episcopal Church, a designation that will require any exterior alterations to the building to get Village Planning Board approval.

The church requested the designation for the building, which opened in 1832. It is Orleans County’s oldest remaining church. It was built with Medina sandstone before there were any commercial quarries.

This is the first Medina church outside a historic district to be declared a landmark. The Presbyterian Church is part of the downtown business district that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The local designation could pave the way for St. John’s to pursue inclusion on the state and national registers of historic places.

Medina Mayor Andrew Meier praised the Episcopal congregation for seeking the local landmark status.

“I’m glad to see the church sees the merits in doing this,” Meier said at Monday’s Village Board meeting. “It is one of the oldest structures in the county.”

The village about five years ago sought to have other churches near the downtown district be declared local landmarks, but the First Baptist, United Methodist and St. Mary’s Catholic Church all opposed the move, saying they feared the designation could saddle them, making building upkeep more costly.

“I’m hopeful some of the other churches will follow suit,” Martin Busch, the village’s code enforcement officer, said after Monday’s meeting. “There is no reason to feel threatened. It’s a recognition of the historic significance of the building to a community.”