A meeting was held and eighty- eight subscribers agreed to furnish funds to build an eight sided union church to be known as the Octagon Church. John Porteus donated the land and burial ground for the church as well as twenty pounds. The eight sides of the church denoted that it was intended for all denominations.
Early Little Falls Buildings and Organizations
September 26, 1792
April 4, 1793
Before the Octagon Church was built, an agreement was drawn up stating that preaching was to be in German and English on alternating Sundays, and pews were to be sold to the highest bidders.
February 4, 1794
The grounds were cleared and work was started on the Octagon Church. also known as the “Pepper Box.” It was completed in 1818 and torn down in 1842. The church was to be 60 feet in major diameter, having a slopped roof leading to a cupola topped with hollow gilt balls. Papers were placed inside the balls that were normally placed in a cornerstone. The church would have a capacity for 300 people.
May 8, 1796
Mr. Bethune Dodd was appointed by the Presbytery to preach at the Octagon Church. The previous evening, he stayed at the home of John Porteous.
July 27, 1802
From the dairy of Rev. John Taylor of Deerfield Massachusetts: “… a small village, called Little Falls, by which the canals built in 1795 containing six locks pass. The village is built upon a ledge of rock and promises to be a place of business as to trade. They have a new and beautiful meeting-house, standing 40 rods back on the hill, built in the form of an octagon. The appearance of the falls is sublime.”
June 29, 1812
The Presbyterian congregation was organized on this date, and the first elders were chosen in 1813, and the assemblage entered into ecclesiastical connection with the Presbytery of Oneida. The congregation originally worshiped at the old Octagon church until a brick church was erected in 1842 on the corner of Ann and Albany Streets.
June 4, 1818
Although it was built in 1796, the Octagon Church was not completed until 1818. During this 22 year period, the church relied on circuit riders and itinerant clergymen. The first resident pastor, Mr. Hezekiah N. Woodruff today delivered his first sermon – “Go up to the mountain and bring Wook and the House and I shall take pleasure in it.” Rev. Woodruff would be shared with worshippers in Herkimer.
October 4, 1835
The new Emmanuel Episcopal church on Albany Street was consecrated by Rt. Rev. Benjamin Treadwell Onderdonk, Bishop of New York. The congregation had previously worshipped at the old Octagon church, and purchased this property in 1833. The historic Trinity Church Parish in New York City had donated $1,500 towards the building fund.
March 17, 1841
The Roman Catholic “Father Matthew Total Abstinence Society”, lately organized in our village, held their services on St. Patrick’s Day at the Octagon Church under the direction of the Rev. J. Burke.
October 18, 1855
M. Bowes built the Octagon house on Prospect Street.
June 9, 1868
St. Paul’s Universalist Church on Albany Street was dedicated today. Originally holding services at either the old Octagon church or the stone school, the Universalists, showing the tolerant spirit of the times, had also held services at the Baptist Church and funerals at the Methodist Church.
April 9, 1889
While digging for the foundation for the new schoolhouse on Church street several skeletons have been found. When the old octagon church, which was built in 1792, stood on the site, the grounds were used for a cemetery.
July 14, 1911
A boulder weighing two tons has been drawn to the site of the old Octagon church, on Church Street, and will be fitted up as a marker. The D. A. R. will dedicate the marker during centennial week in September.
October 6, 1912
The Presbyterian congregation in Little Falls begins a four day celebration of its centennial. They first worshipped in the Old Octagon Church, and the present body was organized in 1812.
July 29, 1913
Stones, undoubtedly the walls of the 1796 Octagon Church, were unearthed by workmen employed on a drainage and heating system project for the Church Street School.