The First Baptist Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 as architecturally significant for its status as the best example of High Victorian Gothic architecture in the Village. Other examples include the First Presbyterian Church and the First Baptist Church.
The nomination took place prior to the 1989 designation of the Downtown Ossining Historic District in which the Church is located and listed as a contributing structure. The Church is also culturally significant for its association with its founder, Captain Elijah Hunter (1749-1815), a Sing Sing-based landowner and businessman who later served as the first Supervisor for the Town of Mount Pleasant prior to the formal incorporation of Sing Sing Village in 1813; the Sing Sing Baptist Congregation, founded in 1786; and for its overall role in the cultural life of the Village since its construction in 1874.
The First Baptist Church, completed in 1874, is actually the second structure to occupy the site at 1 Church St; the first was constructed in the early 19th Century to house the Sing Sing Baptist Congregation. This congregation was founded in April of 1786 by Captain Elijah Hunter, a Revolutionary War spy who was the founder of the hamlet Hunter’s Landing, an early waterfront settlement located near the current-day train station which grew to later become part of Sing Sing Village. Hunter chose a triangular-shaped site at the center of the Village near the convergence of the Albany Post Road (known today as Highland Avenue or Route 9), Croton Avenue, and Main Street in order to maximize its visibility and emphasize its central importance to Ossining’s religious life. The original First Baptist Church was a place where blacks and whites would worship side by side in a setting that permitted a degree of equality that did not exist elsewhere, a tradition that continued with the construction of the current structure. The original church building was demolished once the size of the congregation grew too large and the present structure was built on the same site. The church was designed by J. Walsh, a Brooklyn-based architect, and was built for a cost of $75,000 in 1874 dollars.
Documented Sources of Information:
1. First Baptist Church “Historic First Baptist Church: History.”
http://historicfirstbaptist.org/history.html (accessed April 17th, 2009).
2. Nomination Application for National Register of Historic Places, “First Baptist Church”,
1973, Ossining Historical Society Archives
3. Ossining Historical Society, “Images of America: Ossining Remembered”, (Charleston, SC:
1999), 98. .
4. Scharf, Thomas, J. “History of Westchester County, NY”, (Philadelphia, PA: 1886), 338
5. Williams, Gary. “Picturing Our Past: National Register Sites in Westchester County”,
Westchester County Historical Society, (Canada: 2003), 274-275.