Welcome to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cortland. We are part of an association of liberal churches that are informed and united by what we value:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic processes;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Reverence for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
We, the Unitarian Universalist Church of Cortland, nurture and honor individual and shared searches for spiritual, intellectual, and emotional understanding. We draw upon the 7 Unitarian Universalist Principles and a range of traditions to support individuals, families, our congregation, and larger communities. We embrace diversity and actively address social concerns while creating a caring community of our own.
UU Church of Cortland History
Information and pictures are also available of the Stained Glass Windows in the sanctuary.
Universalist circuit rider Nathaniel Stacy held regular meetings in the area starting around 1807.
The congregation was established 1813 as a Universalist Church.
The Cobblestone Church Building
Our beautiful church building was built in 1836 and 1837. “Cobblestone construction was warm in winter, cool in summer and had a feeling of solid respectability in a raw land.” Cobblestones were brought to town by the area farmers. Each stone was sorted for size and color, washed, and laid in a pattern, such as diamond and herringbone patterns. The hardwood timbers for the roof would have been swung up to the roof by block and tackle with the help of oxen.In the pre-Civil War period, the congregation hosted the social reformers and anti-slavery advocates who traveled the lecture circuit. Thus, speakers in the Universalist Church of Cortland included Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Henry Ward Beecher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Lloyd Garrison, Thomas Starr King, Lucretia Mott, Theodore Parker, Wendell Phillips, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. The square Meeting House style emphasizes the early and frequent use of the building in the civil life of Cortland. The church was Cortland’s first Town Hall until 1885, and as such the townspeople voted for Abraham Lincoln within these walls.In 1889, the building was refurbished by the architect H.W. Beardsley to reflect Victorian tastes and the new wealth of the Industrial Revolution. The entryway was closed in with Norman styling, Eastlake doors, and a graceful fan light. The ash panels on the ceiling were inspired by local craftsmen manufacturing early railroad coaches. The panels and hammer beams support the vaulted ceiling which was designed for excellent acoustics and replaced the orginal white and gray plaster interior. The lower row of clear windows were replaced by the Utica Stained Glass Company with beautiful flower patterns. Opera chairs with a wire frame for storing a silk top hat underneath replaced the pews. The light in the new sanctuary was warm and inviting.
Our Beautiful Organ
In 1895, a large arch was cut in the east cobblestone wall and a Morey and Barnes organ was set in the arch. This historic organ has been faithfully maintained and is one of only two such historic organs remaining. It is nationally recognized by the American Organ Historical Society for its superb sound and nearly original condition. The organ was severly threatened in 1998 when a storm tore the roof off of the organ shed, causing damage to the roof structure and interior ceiling. A fund for the preservation of the organ was started, and basic preservation of the organ shed roof and the wall behind the organ has been completed, but more work to preserve the organ and the building that houses it is needed.
This Historic Cobblestone Church Needs Help!
The “Old Cobblestone Church” as it is known locally needs constant repairs – as does any building. Historic soft lime mortar in the cobblestone walls requires the skills of a preservation mason. Some serious restoration took place in the 1990s, especially after the damage to the organ shed. At this point our main concern is the belfry, which was leaking up until winter 2008 when ABL Contractors patched it. The leaks caused some of the wood to rot and the paint to peel. We are currently working on getting the belfry painted. Our long-term plan involves replacing some of those beams, and rebuilding the belfry so that it will not leak in the future.
The building was placed on the State and National Register of Historic Buildings in 1993. The “Old Cobblestone Church” is now the oldest building in Cortland County and is one of only two such cobblestone buildings in the country. The people of Cortland have used the building to vote, to conduct government, to teach grade school, to hold classes for the Normal School, to begin the congregations of other denominations, to hold concerts and to hear progressive ideas from the lectern. We hope the community shares our feeling that the building is an important part of Cortland’s history and will help us preserve it into the next century.
How You Can Help:
For now, since no general building preservation fund has been set up, you can contribute to either the general funds of the church or to the Organ Preservation Fund. Send a check made out to Unitarian Universalist Church of Cortland. You may specify in the memo area if you would like your money to be dedicated to the Organ Preservation Fund or toward building maintainance. The mailing address is UU Church of Cortland, 3 Church Street, Cortland, NY 13045.