History of The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Corinth, New York
On the Hudson River, about 15 miles north of Saratoga, is the community of Corinth. On August 6th, 2005, the Church of the
Immaculate Conception will celebrate its 100th birthday. This is a little
history of our beautiful church at Palmer Avenue (in Palmer Falls, New
York, changed to Corinth in 1960).
At the home of Mrs. Mary McCarty the Holy Sacrifice was offered on two occasions by the Rev. John McMenamy, who was pastor of St. Peter's Church in Saratoga. This occurred in the early 1870's and is the first recorded evidence of Catholic corporate worship in the Town of
Corinth. Subsequently, in 1874, when the Rev. James Kelly became
pastor of Warrensburg, he considered Corinth and Palmer as one of his
missions and visited it quarterly, offering Mass at the residence of Mr.
On land donated by the Palmer Family in 1885, plans were made to
erect a church, In 1886, a frame church dedicated to the Immaculate
Conception of Our Lady was built. It had a capacity of 200 people. The
Rectory was finished in 1891 and cemetery property was also purchased.
The Rev. William Mahoney had been named the first pastor of this new
church. He was succeeded by the Rev. Edward Brady in 1889 and the
Rev. Michael Fogarty in 1901.
By this time, the congregation had grown so much that the existing
church was no longer large enough. The congregation made a unanimous
decision on May 8th, 1904 to erect a larger church. Funding for the new
church was raised by the sale of coupons. The winner would receive an
all expenses paid trip to the World's Fair. The old church building was
moved 70 feet west and became our parish hall. By June of 1905 the
cellar of the new church was completed, performed by the men of the
congregation. The burden of this undertaking fell upon the new pastor,
the Rev. Peter J. Donnelly. The Construction was begun in June 1905.
Mr. O'Connor of Hudson, New York drew up the plans and John
Fitzgerald, also of Hudson was awarded the contract to construct the church. On August 6th, 1905, the cornerstone was laid. Although the day was showery more than 1,500 people attended the ceremony. In
copper plated steel box corner stone records of the day were placed.
The new church would be 102 ft. long and 48 ft. wide and the ceiling 32 ft. high. The spire would rise 105 ft. The edifice would be constructed
of Glens Falls brick with Bedford, Indiana bluff limestone trimmings.
The underpinning would be Warsaw bluestone. Inside, the church pews
and confessionals would be of oak with the altars finished in enameled
white and gold with the Chancel rail of white enameled brass. On September
3rd, 1906 the dedication was held, solemnly blessed by
Father Donnelly who was 38 at this time, had just celebrated his 13*
year of ordination and was greatly loved by the congregation. In his first 3 years at Corinth the membership had doubled and he had wiped out the previous debt.
By 1916 members of the church numbered 716 which represented 136 families.
For years the nuns came from Saratoga to teach Cathechism in
the Daly/Jacques home. This home was converted to a convent and
later the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement came. These nuns served
from August 1950 to September 1969. After the nuns left, there was
a fire in the convent and it was eventually torn down. After this time
religious education was taught by the members of the congregation
and continues today.
The church also had many organists from the community who contributed their talent and time for us:
Frances Buttles, Frances Cromie, Mary Jane Murphy Damberg, Kathleen
Bogle Clements, Elaine Cooley Luper, Rosemarie Dashnaw and Sherry
Hanley. Howard Russell also plays often during the summer months.
A Brief History of the Church of The Holy Infancy by Barbara J. Sebeck
Holy Infancy Church ha d its beginning as a Roman Catholic Mission in the late 1800's.
According to 'Timber, Tannery and Tourists" (our local history book) the first Roman Catholic Mission at Luzerne was served from Saratoga Springs. In 1874 it was attached to the parish of Warrensburg, and was called the Church of the Infant Jesus.
A church building was erected on a site donated by Col. Benjamin Butler , and the Parishioners were maintained by Rev. James A. Kelly of Warrensburg .During July, August and September each year mass celebrated every Sunday; for the balance of the year only once a month.
In 1890 the local parish was transferred from Warrensburg to that of Cori nth. It was still a mission church, but served regularly by priests from the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Cori nth.
From 1890 to about the 1950's the clergy included Reverends Edward M.Brady , M.M. Fogar ty , Peter
J. Donnally, Joh11 E. Dignan , M.J. Mccaffrey and Joseph P. Hanlon.
Col. Butler deeded the land to Daniel O'Keefe on August 16, 1876, and the original church was built
by Mr. O'Keefe and his brothers. The building held 30 people. Since there w re very few Catholics,
duri ng the winter months mass was said in the parlors of the O'Keefe's and Clear's homes.
Summer brought many visitors, and the small church was bulging. Anna Clear was the organist at
the time, Dan O'Keefe the sexton, and Mary O'Keefe cared for the altar linens.
Holy Infancy increased its parishioners during 1929 because the Conklingville Dam was being
constructed and brought several families to the area. Since the mission church held so few people,
they were standing outside the building. So in 1929 the mission church was razed and the pre sent
church was erected by workers on the d am.In the interim, mass was said at Marian Lodge, site of
the Elms Cottages in Luzerne. When the dam was complete d and summer people departed, mass
was held in the sacristy because there were so few people. As the church was being constructed,
stained glass windows were donated by well-known broad way stars. Fr. Hanlon would have an
auction at which they bid from $300 to $500 for an apple pie or other baked items. Eddie
Cantor had a beautiful place on Fourth Lake. Many prominent people retreated to Luzerne to enjoy
the natural beauty.
As the community grew, Bishop Scully decided to designate Holy Infancy as a full-fledged parish in
1956.The first pastor was Rev. John O'Grady who enjoyed the area and had a great appreciation of
the mountains, lakes and boating. He was a gifted speaker, had a good sense of humor, had a green
thumb, and repaired whatever had to be done to the church. Under his stay the parish had
profitable functions with rewarding results. At the time Fran Cromie was the organist and Holy
Infancy had a choir.
In June of 1972 Rev. William Kelleher was assigned to Holy Infancy. He was a kind, gentle and
compassion pastor, concerned about the needs of his parishioners. He initiated the Charismatic
Mass and Folk Mass, and we had religious education. During his tenure the parishioners began
construction of a hall.
In 1978 talks began about the addition to the church. Pledges were made, parishioners cooperated
fully, and the best thing was the men volunteers d id the heavy work, while the women provided the
food. It was all done in a friendly spirit .By 1983 it was completed that included rest rooms (one for the
handicapped) and a kitchen. The downstairs room was to be completed at a later date. In January 1984 Rev. John D. Kirwin came to Holy Infancy as pastor. Under his guidance the church has been
refurbished, feast days have been enhanced, and a variety of activities involving the community were
inaugurated and held in Parishioners Hall, the name for the new addition. Fr. Kirwin introduced
children’s Liturgy which still goes on, scripture sharing, and cantoring.
Also established was a group of ladies who called themselves the Bethany Guild. They provided fund raising ventures like the raffle of handmade quilts, garage sales, Christmas sales -- all monies
going toward church projects. Among the many good causes, the Bethany Guild is responsible for
the handicap ramp and the new cross atop the church.
No one knows how the original cross was destroyed, but believe that lightning struck it. Our choir
director was Nancy Nevins, and organist was Sue Gleeman. Both still serve in that capacity.
Rev. Charles Gaffigan was appointed pastor in December 1991. Since he arrived, the downstairs
room in Parishioner’s Hall was completed with volunteer help and is used as a religious education
facility. This program is flourishing.
Parishioner's Hall was formally dedicated after 10 AM mass on December 13, 1992, by Bishop
Howard J. Hubbard.
A new furnace has been installed and a new organ purchased. When the organ was installed, we had a
concert followed by high tea. Since his arrival, Fr. Gaffigan has been busy visiting families in the
We are sure our older parishioners have many stories to tell about the early days at Holy Infancy which
would make an interesting book. The parish council plays an important part in the parish operation.
Holy Infancy has come a long way since the late 1800's. Through the years the religious education of
parishioners has witnessed the dedicated work of the Sisters of the Atonement, lay catechists and the
Christian Brothers. There is more to be developed at Holy Infancy, and hopefully the future will see the
Good News appropriately proclaimed; permeating the lives of the parishioners, and those they serve.