The membership voted to accept this offer and move to our current location at the corner of South Clinton Avenue and Court Street.
The church board hired Claude Bragdon, one of Rochester’s most respected architects, to design a new church. He used the nearly 1500 year-old Hagia Sophia Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, pictured in a drawing at right, as inspiration for his design.
Bragdon incorporated several stained glass windows, including our beloved Sargent window, from our soon-to-be-demolished church. The Sargent window, named for its donor, is based on “The Good Shepherd” by Doré.
The cornerstone of the new church – and our current building – was laid on September 15, 1907. Bragdon’s design included a second-floor gymnasium.
The board contracted to purchase an organ from the Hope-Jones Organ Company in December 1907. The innovative design used electrical current combined with air to activate the pipes. This type of organ was quickly becoming popular in movie theaters in a time during the silent era.
The dedication ceremony was a week-long event in October 1908, starting with a sermon by Rev. Grose titled “Our Inheritance.” Mark Twain, as a director of the Hope-Jones Organ Company, came to our church for a demonstration of the organ used to accompany a singer, which at that time was generally considered to be an unsuitable use of an organ.
Even then, we liked to “push the envelope.”
In 1937, the organ underwent a restoration. Murray Memorial Chimes, which allowed 25 cathedral chimes to be played from the keyboard, were added.
The long-unused second floor gymnasium was renovated to create classrooms in 1959. A third floor was added.
This 1965 photo (at right), taken from South Clinton Avenue, showed our church as the construction of the Xerox tower began.
In May of 1971, the U. S. Department of Interior listed our church at 150 S. Clinton Avenue on its National Register of Historic Places.
Our building and organ have undergone many restorations and changes over the years. We are still here, still standing.
* From First Universalist of Rochester: Timeline of a Century Landmark by Karen Dau, 2007.