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By Charles R. Nichols
In proceeding with the column about 'Old Philmont', I thought it proper to include some histories of the several houses of worship. The first will be the Philmont Reformed Church. Others will follow sporadically as impulse dictates.
The history of the Philmont Reformed Church actually starts in Claverack. The First Reformed Church of Claverack was (and still is) the oldest church of that denomination in the area. In 1823, some of the people living in Mellenville who were members of that church were meeting for Sunday School and Prayer Meeting at the Mellenville school house.
By 1838 the number of people belonging to the Claverack Church living in the Mellenville area had grown considerably. As one rather uncharitable chronicler put it, Mellenville was the largest settlement in the vicinity, and Philmont had only a small Carpet Mill, and a few scattered dwellings. True, but humbling.
91 members were released from the Claverack Church, and formed the Second Reformed Church of Claverack in Mellenville. The church in Mellenville was dedicated December 13 of that year.
In 1869 the Mellenville Church was enlarged, and dedicated on May 8, 1870.
Over time the Philmont population overtook that of Mellenville, and the number of Reformed Church members increased in kind. By the 1870’s about half of the members lived in Philmont.
In 1879 the Philmont Reformed Chapel was erected on Church Street, and held evening services. The first photo is that of the Chapel. The Church was improved and enlarged and when in March of 1892 the Philmont Church was formally organized as the ‘Reformed Protestant Church of Philmont’ it had 119 members. The second photo of the Church was how it looked late 1800’s.
In that same year of 1892, the Church purchased the house, formerly the George M. Harder home, for a parsonage located at #18 Church St.. Later the parsonage was located at #11 Church St.
In 1896 the Mellenville Church changed its corporate name to ‘The Reformed Church of Mellenville’.
In 1907, a large bell was donated for installation in the Church tower, and is shown in the next photo.
Following the ‘official’ name of the Philmont Church is a bit difficult. While known unofficially since inception as the Philmont Reformed Church, it was apparently not graced officially with that name until 1959.
The photo showing the interior of the Church decorated (probably for Easter) was taken in the early 1900’s.
In 1962 a Carillon was installed, and in 1966 the house next to the Church on its left was purchased for use as a Christian Education Building, and also secured a larger parking place for the Church.
Increasing cost of building maintenance and a slow diminishment of number of Church members in both the Mellenville and Philmont Reformed Churches brought about a discussion of merger of the two. This was accomplished in 1969, and the name of the combined churches again changed to the ‘Second Reformed Church of Claverack’, bringing things full circle to 1838.
Both churches were utilized until 1983 when the Mellenville Church was sold. In 1986 the Philmont Church Parsonage was sold, and the Education Building was to serve as parsonage after renovation.
The final two photos are recent views of the interior and exterior of the Church.
The Present pastor is Rev. Dan Herrick, and service is held on Sunday at 10:30 AM. All are welcome. You can find out more about this church in Church Services.