by Bryan Thompson
On Depot Street, in the village of Richville, stands the remains of the former Richville Methodist church. This building was once a fine example of a rustic Gothic Revival church.
Built in 1878 by Albon F. Deen, the building sported faux flying buttresses, gothic arched windows, and a simple open belfry decorated with cut scroll work and shingles.
The Methodists were one of the first religious groups organized in the village of Richville. They met regularly at the stone schoolhouse in the village. On June 15, 1827 they incorporated a "United Religious Society" with the Baptists for the purpose of establishing a common burial ground. The trustees of this union included: Orson White, Orson Shead, Josiah Walker, Henry C. Miller, John C. Rich and Marshall Allen. This burial ground is known today as the Wayside cemetery.
On March 13, 1836 "The United Baptist and Methodist Religious Society of Richville "was formed. The trustees of this organization were: Nathan Barker, Harlow Godard, John Chase, James Phelps, Danford Johnson, and Russell Johnson. A church was built on the edge of the burial grounds. This union was not fated to last long. On October 2, 1837 the two groups parted ways. The Baptists formed their own society and kept the new church while the Methodists returned to meeting at the stone schoolhouse. In 1840 the Methodists united with the Congregationalists to build a Union church. The Methodist provided 25% of the money for building the church. Each society met on alternate Sundays. This arrangement continued into the 1870's.
In 1870 the church was transferred from the Gouverneur circuit to the De Kaib circuit of the M. E. Church. The members of the church in 1872 were: G. W. Best, Anna Best, Darius Wiser, Charles Cotton, Catharine Cotton, Celista Bilow, Anna Foster, Evan Jones, Ezra Kingsbury, Sarah B. Kingsbury, Charles Liskum, Arvilla Liskum, George Lalone, Martha Lalone, Joseph Rowland, Mary Rowland, Harlow Holland, Emma Holland, Ellen Stiles, Avery Gardner, Lucinda Gardner, Aedelia Gardner, J. Harvey Foster, Louisa Foster, Ellen Foster, Adda Foster, Luella E. Kingsbury, Mary M. Kingsbury, Emaline A. Collins, Calvin Marshall, Catherine Marshall, Lovica Dodge, Joseph A. Gonya, Minna M. Malloy, Egbert Walker, Martha Walker.
In 1875 a Reverend Dixon was placed in charge of the Richville church. In 1877 he began the campaign to build a Methodist church in Richville. The congregation raised $2500, which was sufficient to purchase a lot and build and furnish the church.
The new church, built by Albon Deen, was dedicated in December 1878. In a parsonage was purchased. In 1879 the church became part of a circuit with the newly organized North Gouverneur Methodist Church.
The ministers who served the church included: Rev. Dixon 1875-78, E. Everett 1879- 80, Asa Smith 1881- 84, E. E. Cheeseman 1884-87, L. R. Grant 1887- 88, J. E. Whipple 1888-89, John Bragg 1889- 90, B. G Sanford 1890-92, A. J. Penny 1892-93, F. W. Thompson 1893- 98, L. M. Smith 1898-1901, G. A. Wilkinson 1901-04, B. M. Phelps 1904- 07, S. B. Owens 1907-08, A. Bell April 1908- May 1908, Wm. E. Kelly 1908- 11, John C. Culligan 1911- 1915, F. E. Loan 1915-19, F. J. Brown 1919-22, W. 0. Hull 1922- 24, Arthur E. Darling 1924-26, Frank T. Bennetts 1926 to merger.
In 1927 both the Baptist and Congregational churches of Richville found themselves without ministers. On April 10, 1927, the 3 societies voted to merge with the Rev. Bennetts as their minister. Rev. Bennetts continued to maintain separate Methodist church records through 1934.
The new United Church met in the larger Congregational and Baptist Churches. The smaller Methodist church became surplus property. It was used as a gymnasium, community meeting hail, and eventually a garage. Little but a the shell of the building is left today to remind us of the Richville Methodist society and their beautiful little rustic Gothic Revival church.
Child, Hamilton (1873) Gazetteer and Business Directory of St. Lawrence County, N.Y. for 1873-74. Syracuse, The Journal Office.
Curtis, Gates ed. (1894) Our County and It's People: A Memorial Record of St. Lawrence County From the earliest Period To The Present Time Syracuse: D. Mason & Co.
Everts, L. H. (1878) A History of St. Lawrence County New York Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co..
Hough, Franklin (1853) A History of St. Lawrence and Franklin Counties, New York Albany, Little & Co.
Methodist Episcopal Church (1872) Record of the DeKaib Charge of the Methodist Episcopal Church 1872- 1887, DeKaib Junction, NY.
Methodist Episcopal Church (1909) The Church Record of the Richville and North Gouverneur Methodist Episcopal Churches, North Gouverneur, N.Y.