Niagara Falls Gazette
Monday May 17, 1954
Another church which started in the 60’s and has since witnessed the continual growth of the North End area is Church of Christ. It was started on December 6, 1867 by Tobias Witmer, of Williamsville, at a school house in Military Road three miles from Suspension Bridge. A year later 13 persons,
all with the name Witmer, united to form the Church of Christ. In 1869 the site of the present church was acquired at Niagara Ave. and 10th St.
The congregation in Niagara Falls started meeting in a rented store on Nov. 13, 1938 at 2012 18th St. which was obtained by Harry Dart and Stanley Hughes. Rent was $2 per week. The first preacher was O. H. Tallman. He was paid $2 per week. There were 27 in attendance and contribution was $4.50. Sunday, Dec. 25, 1938, salary for O. H. Tallman increased to $3 per week. Balance on hand at the end of 1938 was 57 cents. From that first service of Nov. 13, 1938 to the end of 1939 the average attendance was 22 people per week. Balance on hand at the end of 1939 was $32.38.
As the congregation developed it became necessary to secure more adequate quarters and the place of meeting was moved to 6500 Buffalo Avenue in May of 1940. While at 6500 Buffalo Ave. the church was incorporated March 29, 1944 under Article 9 of N.Y. Religious Corporations Law. We are a tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. There are advantages of being tax exempt. Because we are tax exempt we do not have to pay taxes on the properties the church owns. We are able to buy things for the church and not have to pay taxes on the purchases. Also, members are permitted (if applicable) to claim a tax deduction on their contributions to the church. The early leaders of the congregation knew this and were wise in doing this very early on. As Christians we are to obey the laws of the land as long as they do not interfere with God’s laws. Being incorporated and tax-exempt do not interfere with God’s laws.
The name “LaSalle church of Christ” was chosen at the time of incorporation.It is extremely important to have by-laws and to keep the trustees up to date. We do not want to jeopardize the tax exempt status we have.
While on Buffalo Ave. continued growth demanded a permanent home for the congregation. Land was purchased and construction began in 1946 at 1121 North Military Rd. - Niagara Falls, N.Y. This was done with the help of the Skillman church of Christ in Dallas, TX. Services were first conducted in the new building in March 1947.
The congregation has owned a preacher’s home over the years. The first home was at 1023 N. Military Rd. just down the street from the current church building. It was purchased approx. Nov. 1945. It was sold Nov. 1951 for $7,000. The second preacher’s home at 9003 Brookside Ave. which was built in 1920 was purchased in July 1952 for $7,400 and was sold Oct. 17, 2014 for $85,000.
While at Niagara Ave. and 10th St. the church mentioned in the Gazette article was known as the "Christian Church” of Suspension Bridge,
New York. The legal records indicate that the Christian Church of Suspension Bridge was known as the "church of Christ" from 1870 to 1897. Although the last names of "Moss", "Oliphant", and "Betty" appear in the church's records as ministers an Oliver G. Hertzog was the first full-time minister. He began his work with the church October 1870 and continued for three years. During this time Oliver G. Hertzog conducted
meetings in Sanborn and Pekin, New York. These meetings resulted in the "Pekin church of Christ”. Mr. Witmer made it possible for Mr. Hertzog to
attend these meetings by driving him to and from Pekin in a horse and carriage. At first the meetings were held in the old Congregational Church in the village of Pekin and then in homes. During the summer months meetings were held in the large barn of Abraham K. LeVan. In 1888 the congregation was large enough to demand a building. Abraham LeVan, who was born in Lockport, NY, seemed to have the greatest influence in establishing the church in Pekin. From 1888 to 1911 it was a good-sized congregation but after a while membership dwindled. In 1921, Mr. Sam H. Stille was brought in as minister for one year. In 1922 an evangelist named Ralph Schell preached. Mr. Harry M. Dart and family moved to the Pekin area from Hubbardsville, New York in 1928. It was through his teaching that the small band was held together. Dart was able to engage Mr. Alex Stewart from Toronto for several summers. Mr. Stewart came over on the lake every summer during good weather and would preach both morning and evening services. When Mr. Stewart could no longer come over Mr. W.F. Cox from Beamsville, Ontario drove over on Sundays. By 1938 attendance was so low that it was decided after much deliberation to close the Pekin church and try to start a new congregation in Niagara Falls, New York. Records indicate that in June of 1938 a 50 year reunion was held.
Interesting side note: 1855 Meneely Bell: Cast in 1855 by Meneely Foundry in West Troy, New York. This bell was donated to Christian Heights Camp by the First Christian Church of Niagara Falls when it merged with the Lewiston Baptist Church in 1999. First Christian was previously named Suspension Bridge church of Christ. It then started a church in Pekin, NY from which the LaSalle church of Christ was formed. Members of the LaSalle church of Christ founded Christian Heights Camp in 1947.
1121 North Military Road
Niagara Falls, NY 14304
LaSalle church of Christ
A place of worship and healing.
Mark Dailey, Minister