Preserve Our Past recently presented an award for historic preservation to the Fort Herkimer Church.
The group presents historic preservation awards in the fall and spring to owners of historic properties who have demonstrated pride of ownership and appropriate restoration projects.
Fort Herkimer Church, on state Route 5S, east of Mohawk, is the oldest building in Herkimer County and has long been valued as one of the Mohawk Valley's historical and architectural treasures.
Built between 1753 and 1767, the single story structure of local limestone was named after Gen. Nicholas Herkimer's father's fortified stone mansion next door and had the senior Herkimer's initials inscribed over the front entrance as a major contributor. The original front door faced the river.
Architectural changes in the early 19th century included the addition of a second floor and bell tower and a rearranged interior floor plan.
A professionally conducted architectural dig under the floor of the church in the 1970s brought a number of artifacts to light and enlarged the body of known historical information connected with the site. Artifacts recovered during the dig are housed at Herkimer County Community College.
Other more recent projects have included repointing the stone exterior, roof repair, woodwork restoration, balcony repair and a complete repainting of the interior in white. A professional restoration of the original painted designs on the pulpit is the most recent interior accomplishment. This work involved the removal of he new painted surface, analysis of the remaining paint colors with scientific processes and the careful inpainting to restore areas of loss with historically accurate colors as shown by the color analysis.
Another find was the name Augustine Hess incised over the west doorway as the builder of the church when the frame entrance to the building was removed to repair its foundation.
Under the watchful eye of a dedicated board of directors and the Montgomery Classis of the Reformed Church of America, the church was an early candidate for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Many years of fundraising, grant writing and attention to detail has brought the well-known historic preservation project close to completion.
For decades the building has been the scene of an annual interfaith Thanksgiving service, which involves many area clergy of various denominations.