Stone Buildings of Roxbury - First Old School Baptist Church

Just 10 minutes away from the Town of Roxbury, in the beautiful Denver/Vega Valley, stands a 150-year-old church building. It served its congregation well over the years, but when the membership dissolved in the early 1980s, it became an empty shell destined to fade away like so many other abandoned buildings that have lost their purpose.

However, a group of local residents and weekend visitors believed that the church’s architectural simple lines and balanced proportions represented the traditional meeting house favored by rural American Protestants. The restrained, yet elegant, architecture reflected the theology of its members—the Old School Baptists—who lived here and imprinted history in this part of New York State.In 1988, the Denver/Vega Preservation Committee, Inc. was established, and committee members began the historical restoration of the church building. The nearby stream bed was stabilized to prevent annual flooding that threatened the building’s foundation; removed original large sidewalk stone with heavy equipment to protect it during foundation work; eight double-hung windows with 20 panels of glass-per-sash were removed and repaired; the building was jacked to level it with reinforcing rods under the building and cables in the attic to correct the sag; dug and poured a reinforced concrete footing complete with crushed stone and drainpipe; relaid stone foundation on top of footing and lowered building back down , re-leveling and adding additional support pillars underneath; installed underground electrical hook-up and added electrical service to the building; removed remaining interior plaster and applied all new plaster; reinstalled windows with new 12-foot shutters; contracted interior and exterior painting; chimney re-pointed and new roof installed.

More than 50 percent of this work was accomplished by volunteers—through fundraisers and physical labor. In 1996, the building and adjacent Vega Cemetery were placed on both the state and National Registers of Historic Places.

Today, the community and other organizations use the building as an arts venue, for such events as exhibits, readings, theater, workshops, as well as chamber music performances. The ambience as well as the outstanding acoustics make these concerts an unforgettable experience. The annual Denver Valley Music Festival consists of at least three concerts and features such ensembles as Rebel, the Pacifica Quartet and Hesperus.

In 2006, the Denver/Vega Preservation Committee, Inc. celebrated the 150th anniversary of the First OSB Church of Roxbury. As restoration continues, we hold events each season to celebrate the remarkable history of a structure that has touched people’s lives in so many different ways.

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