The Churches of Middle Village - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the December 2016 Juniper Berry Magazine

The Churches of Middle Village

Trinity Lutheran School

In 1863, a small one room school house was built on the east side of Juniper Avenue (69th Street) on a plot that was 200' by 190'. In 1881 the Reverend Daniel Peterson became associated with the church as Pastor. In 1890 the parochial school was enlarged to accommodate 200 students. In 1895, the school building burned down but was replaced with a new building on the same site. At the same time a parsonage was built just to the south of the school building. Pastor Peterson who was living in a house on Mount Olivet Avenue (Mount Olivet Crescent) then moved into the new parsonage. In 1900, one of the members of the congregation donated a bell for the school and it was placed in the tower of the school building. In 1939, the church sold the school and parsonage property but removed the bell from the school building and stored it away. In April 1977, the Trinity Lutheran Church in Lutheran Cemetery burned down. The congregation decided not to rebuild in the cemetery and instead built a new church on Penelope Avenue in Middle Village next to the parish center that had been constructed in 1934. When the new church was completed the school bell and the church bell from the church that was built in 1907/1908 were placed in a memorial on the grounds near the new church

Community Methodist Episcopal Church

75-27 Metropolitan Avenue

This church was founded in 1768 as the Methodist Episcopal Church as a result of a meeting that was at the home of James Harper. They discussed the founding of the church with Thomas Webb, a retired British Army officer who was a lay preacher associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church on John Street in New York City, which had been founded in 1766. The members met in their homes for services, initially and then in 1785 built the meeting house. On February 20, 1835 when it was apparent that the congregation had outgrown the meeting house a plot of ground now on the north side of what is now Metropolitan Avenue between 75th and 78th Streets, with 100' frontage on the avenue and 200' deep, was purchased from Joseph Harper, son of James Harper, for $60. The deed was made out to the trustees of the church, namely, Charles Way, Jonathan Morrell, Southwick Hebberd, George Philips, Daniel Rumph, Robert Morrell, Abel Denton, John Morris, and John Morris, Jr. and it carefully spelled out that a house of worship had to be erected on the land for the use of the Methodist Episcopal Church of the Church of the United States of America according to the rules and disciplines which from time to time may be adopted by the ministers and preachers of the said church at their general conferences in the United States of America. In 1835 the Revolutionary War was still fresh in the mind of the trustees and it was made clear they were referring to the Methodist Episcopal Church in this country and by inference not of England. Joseph Harper made a generous contribution to the construction of the new church which was built on the site, with a burial ground in the rear. This burial ground was to supplement the old burial ground at the site of the old meeting house. From 1768 when the congregation was founded as the second oldest Methodist Episcopal Church in the country and all thru the 1800s the Harper Family was strongly supportive of the church. The sons of Joseph and Elizabeth Harper in the early 1800s moved from what is now Middle Village to Manhattan to found Harper and Brothers, a publishing firm which was highly successful. One of the sons, James Harper, became the Mayor of the City of New York in 1844/1845. In later life they and their children never forgot the Methodist Episcopal Church in Middle Village. Joseph Harper died in 1847 and was buried in the graveyard.

St. Margaret's Church

66-05 79th Place.

In early 1860, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Brooklyn, John Loughlin, ordered the establishment of a new parish in Middle Village. Six lots, each 50' x 150' were purchased on the southeast corner of Pullis Avenue (79th Place) and Juniper Valley Road, with 150' frontage on Juniper Valley Road and 300' frontage on Pullis Avenue. These lots were from the Pullis and Carhart sub-division map of 1852 of part of the Pullis Farm. On March 18, 1860 Father Goetz broke ground for the church on Pullis Avenue and in May laid the cornerstone. It was a small wooden frame building 25' wide and 50' long. The name St. Margaret was chosen for the parish and it was an appropriate name for this farming community as St. Margaret was the protector of farmers' animal and harvests. There were seventy Catholic families in the parish. Mrs. Margaret Boening donated a bell and a picture of St. Margaret. On May 16, 1870 the Dominican sisters arrived to open the parochial school with the lessons taught in German as most of the parishioners were of German ancestry. The school was a log cabin which was framed with finished lumber. In 1894, Father Francis Siegelack was assigned to St. Margaret as pastor. He was born in 1862 in Dusseldorf, Germany and he came to America with his parents in 1870. He was ordained in Austria in 1887. On August 20, 1899 the cornerstone was laid for a three story wooden frame building with a basement, for a school and parish hall. Two bowling alleys were in the basement. In May 1907 the cornerstone was laid for a brick church on Pullis Avenue, with the church 40' x 110' with a seating capacity of almost 300. It had a tall steeple with a cross on top. This building is still standing today but the steeple has been removed. In September 1909, Father Siegelack was reassigned as Pastor of St. Pancras Parish in Glendale. In September 1930, he was transferred to St. Matthias Parish in Ridgewood as Pastor replacing Father Wagner who had passed away. In 1931 Father Siegelack was made a monsignor and in October 1933, he was elevated to Right Rev. Monsignor. He continued as pastor at St. Matthias until he died on December 7, 1943 at the age of 81. This remarkable man had served as a pastor of churches in our area for forty-nine years.

St. Margaret's Church, School and Parish Center are on the west side of 80th Street, just south of Juniper Valley Road. On March 17, 1935 the ground was broken for a new church-school complex on 80th Street and the cornerstone was laid on June 23, 1935. When the school opened, it had over five hundred students. In the fall of 1971 a groundbreaking took place for the new parish center on 80th Street. The cornerstone was laid May 14, 1972 and it was the old cornerstone that was used in 1899 for the school building on Pullis Avenue (79th place).

Trinity Lutheran Church

63-70 Dry Harbor Road traces its history back to 1859 when a small chapel was made available to the Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of the Luther Chapel. Lutheran Cemetery had been incorporated on March 22, 1852 and several years later a small chapel was built for the use of mourners on a hill on the south side of what is now Metropolitan Avenue and 70th Street. Among the members of the church were the Meirose (Meyerrose) and Brunjes families. In 1867 the name of the congregation was changed to Trinity Lutheran Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession of Middle village and then in 1931 to Trinity Lutheran Church of Middle Village. In 1881 Pastor Daniel W. Peterson became associated with the church and for 43 years he did a splendid job leading his congregation. In 1886 the chapel in the cemetery was enlarged and modernized. In 1890 the parochial school on 69th Street was enlarged to accommodate two hundred students. In 1895 the school building burned down and a new school was erected on the site. At the same time a parsonage was built next to the school. Pastor Peterson, who had been living on Mount Olivet Crescent, then moved to the new parsonage. In 1900, a bell was donated to the school and mounted in the tower. In 1906, the church in the cemetery caught fire and the fire companies that responded had trouble in fighting the fire as there was no water in the mains. A telephone call had to be made to the Citizens Water Company to tell them to turn on the pumps. By that time the church had burned to the ground. In 1907/1908 a new concrete block church seating four hundred was built on the site of the old church. In 1924, Pastor Peterson retired. In 1934 a parish house was built on Penelope Avenue and Dry Harbor Road and Sunday School and church activities other than religious services were held there. In 1939 the church sold the property on 69th Street. The bell was removed from the school tower and stored. In April, 1977 the church in the cemetery caught fire and was destroyed. The congregation decided not to rebuild on the old site and instead in 1978/1979 built a new church adjacent to the parish house on Penelope Avenue and Dry Harbor Road. On the northwest corner of the grounds are the bell from the school and the bell from the church built in 1907. In addition the cornerstone from the 1907/1908 church is there along with part of the cornerstone from the 1934 parish house, which cornerstone would have been hidden when the church was built next to it in 1978/1979.

The site of Methodist Episcopal Meeting House and Burial Grounds was located on the southwest corner of 80th Street and Furmanville Avenue. The Methodist Episcopal Church in what is now Middle Village was founded in 1768 and the members met in their homes for services. In 1785 they built a meeting house on this site with a burial ground in the rear. Visiting preachers from time to time would visit the meeting house and preach to the congregation. In 1835 land was purchased on the north side of the turnpike Metropolitan Avenue for a church site, to replace the meeting house which the congregation had outgrown. In January, 1837 the new church was opened and the meeting house sold with the understanding that it had to be removed from the site. It was moved nearby and used as a dwelling and eventually as a barn. It was then struck by lightning and burned to the ground. When the meeting house was moved off the site, the burial grounds were enlarged. In May, 1890 the burial ground here was cleaned up and a fence built around it. In April, 1923 there was still about a half dozen tombstones on the grounds, some fallen, some broken. One of the stones standing read "Susannah Colyer died 1839- aged 3 years. In 1925, the burial grounds at this location were sold and in 1927 houses were built on the site.