A private historic landmark preservation group has awarded $28,000 in restoration funding to the Charlton Freehold Presbyterian Church.
The New York Landmarks Conservancy awarded a $25,000 Robert W. Wilson Sacred Sites Challenge Grant to the historic church’s congregation, as well as a $3,000 Sacred Sites Grant. The church must raise money on its own to meet the challenge grant.
The church, still a vital part of the rural Saratoga County community, plans to use the money for restoration of its belfry, or bell tower.
“It’s vital to renew and repair religious buildings,” said Peg Breen, president of The New York Landmarks Conservancy, a New York City-based private conservation group.
The grant to the Charlton church was among 23 grants totaling $275,000 given statewide. Another $25,000 matching grant went to St. George’s Episcopal Church in Schenectady for steeple repairs.
The church congregation is among the oldest in Saratoga County.
The Freehold congregation was established by Scottish and Scot-Irish settlers from Freehold, N.J., during the Colonial era. The original church was built in 1786, the same year the congregation was incorporated under the Presbytery of New York.
The present building, which was built in 1852-53, is the third church building, but is on the original Freeholders lot. The conservancy described the church as “a fine example of Greek Revival architecture with additional Neo-Gothic elements.”
The bell tower is particularly noteworthy. “Many such towers have been lost over time, but at Charlton the crowning glory of the church remains almost wholly intact after 160 years of exposure to the elements,” according to an architect’s report prepared for the church.
Charlton Freehold is the only church in the Charlton hamlet, and serves as a meeting place for the Charlton Seniors, periodic public concerts and performances throughout the year, and other community events.
Since 1986, the New York Landmarks Conservancy has awarded more than 1,200 Sacred Sites grants, totaling more than $8 million, to 708 religious institutions.