History in Brief
Christ Church was founded in 1802. Its nave houses magnificent stained glass windows, including one dating to 13th Century France that was a gift to the Church from the Whitney Family. It is surrounded by a landmark cemetery.
Bicentennial Celebration in 2002
The parishioners and clergy of Christ Church celebrated a year of commemorative special events, historic worship services, music, dancing, food and fellowship in 2002. Find out more about our year-long bicentennial celebration.
Stained Glass Windows
Enter Christ Church's sanctuary and experience a window. Choose any one. Feel an aura of holiness created by a mosaic of vivid colors and shades. Soak up the velvety glow from a rainbow of jeweled light. Illuminate your mind with the beauty of translucent pictures needing no captions.
Visit our magnificent stained glass windows during a Sunday or weekday service, or stop by any time to see them from outside. Or take a virtual tour of Christ Church's beautiful windows!
In 1800, the North Hempstead farmers of English descent and religion were not happy with the situation in the town of Hempstead, which was predominantly anti-English. For these people the trip to St. George's Episcopal Church was an all-day affair. This was especially true on rainy, snowy or cold days when either mud or ice made the poor roads almost impassable. Some people took the family in farm wagons, some went on horseback, and a few actually walked the twelve miles barefoot and put on their boots to enter the church properly. They were obliged to carry their food for the midday meal and as they returned home after the long trip in the afternoon they were almost glad that Sunday was finally over. Small wonder, then, that these devout Episcopalians wanted their own church in their own region.
The vestry of St. George's gave permission to the people of Cow Neck to raise money, to buy land, and to build a church. The people went to work, and by October 1802 they had raised $2046.50 by subscription. But this was not enough and the vestry of St. George's told them to try again. Early in December the total grew to $3725.50 and everyone was pleased. On the 31st of December in 1802 they bought from George and Sarah Onderdonk "two acres and 97 square rods of land for $197.47 in cash." This is the property now occupied by the Church, the cemetery and the Parish Hall.
Work on the church building began in the early spring of 1803 by carpenters. The Right Reverend Benjamin Moore, Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese of New York, dedicated the structure on November 17,1803. The small shingled colonial church had a tiny balcony, was lit by candles and heated by a wood burning stove. The choir sang to the strains of a cello and violin until an organ was purchased in 1859. Pews were rented and a donation to the rector in the form of fruit or vegetables was customary.
The salary of the rector was determined largely by the income from Christ Church Academy, founded shortly after the church. It was the first private school in North Hempstead and offered a "standard curriculum to children of all ages." After the Academy ceased operations due to the advent of public school, the building was used as a combined rectory and parish house.
The first rector was the Reverend Seth Hart, who was also rector of St. George's. On alternate Sundays Mr. Hart came to Cow Neck instead of the Cow Neck people coming to Hempstead. This arrangement, unsatisfactory though it was, lasted for fifteen years. Following Mr. Hart, a series of clergymen were engaged but most of them lasted only a few years due to the abysmally low salaries offered. Not until long after the Civil War was a decent living offered the rector.
In 1868, the original church was completely remodeled and greatly enlarged. Not an outward trace of the original building was left and instead there rose a Victorian Gothic wooden church, painted brown with a tall spire topped by a small cross. This structure lasted until 1912 when it was hit by lightning and burned to the ground. The vestry discovered there was insufficient insurance to build a new church of the type they wanted but they persevered. They gave the architect instructions to build a building for $25,000. He drew a handsome set of plans but these proved to be much too expensive and he was given forty-eight hours to come up with something cheaper. These plans became the present structure although it, too, was struck by lightning in 1935. The damage was restricted to the north part of the church containing the organ, chancel, sanctuary and altar. Generous members of the parish quickly raised the extra money not covered by insurance and the entire church was refinished.
The exterior looks much the same today as it did in 1935, with the addition of a new vestibule in 1965 at the south entrance. The interior was completely remodeled in 1972 when a magnificent Cassavant pipe organ was installed. Fire struck again in 1999 when a temporary heating system failed. A devoted church member carried a burning space heater out of the building with his bare hands to spare further damage. During restoration from fire and smoke damage, burned floorboards were replaced and the organ pipes were removed for professional cleaning.
Today, Christ Church welcomes all to worship in an atmosphere which combines inspirational messages, vivid stained glass and sacred music to enhance spiritual growth. Sunday morning services are at 8 and 10, with a variety of programs and activities for young and old throughout the week. Contact the church office at 627-2184 for further information or to speak with the rector.
One of our parishioners, Daniel Wright, put together a page about Christ Church history as part of a genealogy research project he is doing for his family. There are some pretty interesting old pictures here. Daniel also created a page for his great-great-grandfather, the Rev. Newbold.
Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Psalm 100:1-2
February 24, 2010