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Village of Williamsville - Community Plan

 

Williamsville Meeting House
Village Meeting HouseThe Disciples of Jesus Christ trace their Williamsville history to 1835, the movement seeking to restore primitive Christianity by reproducing the church of the apostles. Baptism was a very important ceremony, and many a sinner was led to the waters of Ellicott Creek and immersed as a welcoming into the fold. Originally located at the Northwest corners of Eagle and North Ellicott Streets, by 1870 their congregation had grown to almost 200 members. The small church was then sold for $1000 to the Lutherans, and new property on Main Street was acquired from Christian Rutt in 1871. The building was completed in the same year, and along the way, many improvements were made, including the unique baptistery still located in the elevated "stage".

 


Village Meeting HouseThis period of time around 1871 appears to be the high water mark for the Disciples of Jesus Christ, and their history suggests that the loss of local manufacturing and exodus to Buffalo gradually shrank their numbers until in 1894, only 116 remained. By 1948, the years had caught up to the structure, and weakened beams forced removal of the bell tower. Finally, by 1976, the congregation lost membership to the point that is was disbanded, and the church sold to the village for $1. Subsequently, the Village of Williamsville Historical Society came to its rescue, and major renovations were completed, allowing the building to function as a museum, and gathering place for concerts, weddings, and meetings.

For many years, it had been the hope of Village Officials and the Historical Society that the bell tower be replaced, giving the Meeting House eligibility for a place on the National Registry of Historic Sites. The funding, however, was too great or the Village to bear alone. With much gratitude, we thank our former and present State Senators John Sheffer and Mary Lou Rath, whose help made it possible to replace that beautiful bell tower.

 

 

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