Church Doors open again in Morehouse

Hamilton County News - July 27, 1999, page 10
By Ellen Craig, News Correspondent

          Morehouse -- After closing its doors 10 years ago when attendance dwindled to just a few worshippers, Morehouse Mehtodist Episcopal Church is open again as morehouse Historical Museum.
          Some 100 residents and curious visitors explored the church, which is over 100 years old, at its grand reopening in June.  The museum, just west of the post office on Rt. 8, is open to the public and staffed by volunteers each Saturday and Sunday trhough Labor Day from 11 am to 3 pm.
          The original four-branch oil chandelier catches the eye immediately upon entering.  Since Morehouse did not get electric service until 1953, the soft, welcoming light of the chandelier is a not too distant memory for many residents.
          The museum also contains the ornately carved original organ, communion items and altar dressings.  In addition, it now houses the town's historic archives.
          The walls and standing displays are filled with pictures of past and current residents, many organized in family groupings.  There is information on the history and economic life of Morehouse, which once boasted over 300 residents, sawmills, tanneries, thriving farms and several hotels.
          Town Historian Carol Ford has also assembled an assortment of implements and items that shed light on daily life in Morehouse in the more distant past.
          According to Ford, a group of residents began talking about renovating the church and creating a museum some four years ago.  In the past year, the project took wing.  The old steeple was strengthened and repaired, the building painted, new entry steps constructed and the floor reinforced.  Except for some professional help with the steeple, all this was accomplished by volunteers.
         A large number of the town's 106 residents answered the call for volunteers, Ford said, both to renovate the church and, now that it's open, to staff the museum. 
Her list of helpers includes Harold Berry, who worked on the steeple and built the new steps; LeRoy Platt, who build the sign deignating the historic site; and Mike Korpon, who built a new cross for the outside of the church.
          Other project volunteers are Mary Ann Mosher, Pat Hyatt, Helen Hotel, Alberta Weakley, Alma Tichenor, Livina Fields, Sharon DeVuyst, Dee Ford, Roland Ford, Supervisor William Farber, John Darling and Wesley Mosher.  Carol Ford noted John and judy Gilbert have volunteered to staff the museum every Sunday through Labor Day weekend.
          "We couldn't have done this without all this enthusiastic support," she said.
          While the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1881, no one knows precisely when it was built.  Records dating to 1855 show two churches, the Union Congregational Church with an average attendance of 28 and a Roman Catholic Church with seating for 100.
          According to History of Hamilton County by Ted Aber and Stella King, the Catholic church was closed in 1866, when its priest reportedly declared, "For this wicked act of yours, I lock this church and lock the devil inside."
          Parishioners had issued an ultimatum that a suicide be given a burial service and laid to rest in the Catholic cemetery.  The service and burial took place but the church died as well.
          The Protestant church continued in the building that now houses the museum until the Methodist Episcopal Church was organized in 1881.  It was the only church in Morehouse until it closed its doors in 1989.
          Anyone with photographs, information on the history of Morehouse or items of historic value to donate to the new museum are welcom to contact Carol Ford at (315) 826-7109.

Last Updated: Wednesday, 14-May-2008 13:15:59 PDT
Copyright © 1999:  Ellen Craig / Hamilton County News
Copyright © 2000:  Carol Ford / Lisa Slaski