High Victorian Gothic architecture, which evolved from the older Gothic Revival style, differs
from that style in its use of contrasting polychromatic bands on the exterior wall surfaces and
more elaborate decorative elements. This style was usually reserved for public buildings such as
schools or churches. As it is related to the Gothic Revival architecture, structures in this style also contain such elements as steeply pitched rooflines, elaborate ornamentation, and a predominantly
The First Presbyterian Church is two stories in height with rectangular massing. The front façade
is dominated by two front towers on either side of the main entryway. Typical of the High
Victorian Gothic style, the church makes use of the polychrome theme with the contrasting brick
colors on window sills, lintels, surrounds, buttress caps, and surrounding the main entrance. The
gothic pointed arch motif is used for window openings and entryways. The gabled main entrance,
which faces South Highland Avenue, is surrounded with elaborate limestone work. The church
originally was constructed with a tall steeple on the southeast tower that was subsequently
removed in the 1950s when the building was renovated and modernized. The church is
constructed with brick and limestone.
Significance: Architectural and Cultural
The First Presbyterian Church is National Register-listed as a contributing structure within the
Downtown Ossining Historic District. It is architecturally significant as a well preserved example
of High Victorian Gothic architecture within Ossining. Other structures of this style include the
First Baptist Church (see entry) and the First Presbyterian Church (see entry). This structure is
also culturally significant as the home of the First Presbyterian Congregation of Ossining.
The First Presbyterian Congregation was formed in 1763 and originally occupied a site located in
what is now Sparta Cemetery on land donated by Frederick Phillipse, owner of the vast Phillipse
Estate that stretched from modern-day Kingsbridge, Bronx to the Croton River. The original
building was damaged during the Revolutionary War, prompting the congregation to build a new
structure in the village of Sing Sing on the site of the current Trinity Episcopal Church at 7 South
Highland Avenue in 1803. As the congregation grew, this church was expanded until it was no
longer adequate to house all those who wished to worship there. The present church was
constructed from 1868 to 1870 for a cost of approximately $95,000 by contractor Peter H.
Terhune of Binghamton, NY and designed by architect Isaac Gale Perry. Perry was later
appointed as the State Architect for the State of New York and designed the final phase of the
New York State Capitol in Albany from 1883 to 1899 as well as the New York State Armory in
Poughkeepsie in 1891.
Text: Village of Ossining – Significant Sites and Structures Guide, April 2010
Documented Sources of Information:
1. “First Presbyterian Church of Ossining, New York: History.” First Presbyterian Church.
http://www.presossining.org/First-Presbyterian-History.aspx. (Accessed April 28th, 2009).
2. Nomination Application for National Register of Historic Places, “Downtown Ossining
Historic District”, 1978, Ossining Historical Society Archives.
3. Ossining Historical Society, “Images of America: Ossining Remembered”, (Charleston, SC:
4. Scharf, Thomas, J. “History of Westchester County, NY”, (Philadelphia, PA: 1886), 340.
5. Williams, Gray “Picturing Our Past: National Register Sites in Westchester County”,
Westchester County Historical Society, (Canada: 2003), 273-274.
First Presbyterian Church of Ossining
Address: 34 South Highland Avenue, Ossining NY