Otter Lake Church celebrates 90th season on Sunday, Aug. 28

The Otter Lake Community Church is celebrating its 90th season of ministry on Sunday, August 28, the anniversary of its first service.

The historic Adirondack Carpenter-Gothic style church, was originally built in Hawkinsville in 1859 by German Lutherans and dedicated in 1861 as St. Trinitus Church.

Thirty years later in 1891, the building was abandoned and stood vacant until the spring of 1921 when Roscoe G. Norton, B. A. Capron and W.C. Schaufler secured the vacant building, then had it disassembled, board by board.

All of the boards were numbered before transporting them to the current site in 1921, where the church was rebuilt, said Carole Gehrig, Trustee and Committee Chair, who is the great granddaughter of W. C. Schaufler.

It was erected on its present site, on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. Roscoe Norton in 1921.

The original seven trustees, under the chairmanship of Mr. Norton, voted to call the property “Otter Lake Community Church.”

The foundation work was begun on July 30, 1921, and on August 28, 1921 the first service was held in the re-constructed church building.

At 3 o’clock that afternoon the building was once again dedicated as a House of God.

Gehrig said the church was incorporated on August 19, 1922 as a “non-denominational church with free pews forever.”

The “Minister’s Lodge” located next to the church was built during the summer of 1924.

On August 20, 1961, a grand worship celebration was held to mark the 100th anniversary of the Otter Lake Community Church building, which had its beginning in Hawkinsville.

In 2004 the church was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.

That same year, with a small grant from Sacred Sites, an architectural study was done by Crawford & Stearns of Syracuse, and restorations to preserve the historic church were begun.

“The beams under the foundation had to be rebuilt, the outside walls were stripped and painted, and we added a new metal roof,” Gehrig said.

The preservation project was completed in 2010 when the interior of the church was repainted.

“After ninety years of inspiration, hope, worship, praise, fellowship, and renewing friendships from summer to summer, it would seem that the hopes and dreams of the founders of this church have been realized.

“The church is continually given new life as succeeding generations of trustees have undertaken numerous projects to preserve, restore and maintain the premises through the stewardship of its attendees, bequests and special gifts,” Gehrig said.

The Service of Celebration on Sunday, August 28, at 10:30 a.m. will be followed by a picnic at noon on the grounds of the church.


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