Religious Buildings in Downtown Ithaca

This tour focuses on religious buildings located in the DeWitt Park, Southside, and Northside neighborhoods.

Religious Buildings in Downtown Ithaca

Ithaca, New York 14850, United States

Created By: Ithaca Heritage

Tour Information

This tour is based on research coordinated by Historic Ithaca Board member Thresa Gibian, working with a cadre of dedicated volunteers in 1995 to highlight historic houses of worship in downtown Ithaca.

Historic Ithaca offered a walking tour in 2009 to heighten awareness about historically important and/or architecturally significant religious buildings that have served as community institutions in the DeWitt Park, Southside, and Northside neighborhoods.

These religious buildings reflect a wide range of architectural styles and sacred traditions. Anglicans, Quakers, Roman Catholics, Jews, numerous Protestant denominations are represented. The particular ecumenical practices of each group, as well as Colonial Revival architectural styles, changing tastes, local climate, and the availability of particular materials all influenced the design of these houses of worship.

Please be respectful of each house of worship and appreciate that this walking tour does not presuppose being able to enter the buildings. It is possible that some of the churches may be open to the public, but you should check in with the offices to see if and when you might be able to go inside the buildings.


Tour Map

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What You'll See on the Tour

1
St. James AME Zion Church

Architect: Unknown Date: 1836 The Zion Church traces its roots to 1796, when James Varick and seven fellow members withdrew from New York City’s John Street Methodist Church in protest over discriminatory treatment they received there. Th... Read more
2
Immaculate Conception Church

Architect: Unknown Date: 1898  The parish has been in existence since 1848, when Mass was celebrated in the former City Hall by the first pastor, Rev. M. Guilbride, although Catholicism first came to Ithaca as early as 1825. The first chur... Read more
3
St. Catherine's Greek Orthodox Church

Architect: William Henry Miller Date: 1884  This church on the northeast corner of Seneca and Geneva streets was originally built in 1884 for the First Congregational Society of Ithaca, which formed in 1873 after severing its ties with the... Read more
4
St John's Episcopal Church

Architect: Robert Cartwright Date: 1859  The second county courthouse and St John’s Episcopal Church are two of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in Tompkins County. Located diagonally from each other across DeWitt Park,... Read more
5
Calvary Baptist Church

Architect/Builder: Unknown Date: 1917 Ithaca’s first known group of African American worshippers met informally in 1825. In 1833, a separate contingent formed the African Methodist Church, which met in the house of a Rev. Johnson, their f... Read more
6
First Presbyterian Church

Architect: J. Cleveland Cady Date: 1901 Accounts of early nineteenth century Ithaca describe a rough pioneer settlement prone to lawlessness and opposed to organized religion. Nonetheless, in 1804, under the leadership of Reverend Gerritt M... Read more
7
First Baptist Church

Architect: William Henry Miller Date: 1890  In 1826, under the guidance of the Reverend O.C. Comstock of Trumansburg, a small group of Tompkins County residents adopted the name of the First Baptist Church of Christ of Ithaca and began mee... Read more
8
Temple Beth-El

Architect: Eli W. Goldstein Date: 1929 In 1925, a congregation consisting of 50 families purchased a city lot from Daniel Rothschild at the corner of Tioga and Mill Street (later renamed Court Street) and began to raise funds to build a Jew... Read more
9
St Paul's United Methodist Church

Architect: Brown & Davis Date: 1909 The stately stone structure at the corner of Court and Aurora streets is the third Methodist church to be built on this site. The first, a wooden Greek Revival-style building with a dome-topped steepl... Read more
10
First Unitarian Society of Ithaca

Architect: William Henry Miller Date: 1894  Encouraged by Ezra Cornell to establish a liberal church in the community, the Church of Christian Unity was formed in 1865. Ezra Cornell and Andrew D. White were active in the early services. Th... Read more
11
First Church-Christ Scientist

Architect: John M. Wilgus Date: 1911  The first building to occupy the site at the base of Cascadilla Falls was a grist mill built by Jacob Yaple sometime between 1789 and 1791. Timothy C. Williams built another in 1846, known as “Cascad... Read more

 

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