West Mountain Methodist-Episcopal Church
- 1797 Lot 494 on West Mountain was homesteaded by Thadius Waring.
- 1829 is the earliest headstone in the adjoining cemetery. It can be presumed that the first church on this site was built around the same time.
- 1866 Beers map shows a Methodist Episcopal Church on this site. The congregation later worshiped in the Calvinist tradition.
- 1888 when the original building became too small, a new church was built. It is a plain, solidly built structure of post and beam construction.
- Over the next couple of decades membership declined, as many farmers moved off the mountain, unable to make a living tilling the poor, rocky soil.
- 1930's, as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to end the depression, a Resettlement project bought up the abandoned land, as well as farms that were barely providing their owners subsistence. In the 1930´s the church was rented out as a dance hall.
- ~1989 the collapsing building became the property of Albany County when the previous owner, Loretta Curtis, stopped paying taxes.
- 1992 the church was sold by auction to Spiro Socaris, who at the time intended to restore it. The cemetery remains County property.
From the 5 Jan. 1979 issue of the Altamont Enterprise. It was a column by Dawn Soper, community correspondent for Lake Onderdonk, and is transcribed in part as follows:
"As I promised last week, here is the history of that charming, little, tumble-down church on the top of West Mountain in the Helderbergs, as written by Mrs. Guy (Agnes) [Shultes] Vincent [1898-1994]"
On the right there now stands a clump of trees. That's where the original church was. It became too small and a new church was built. William Wilson donated the land. The timber came from the woodlot I now own, and my father, George B. [Shultes (1861-1924)] framed and his brothers, Fred and Sherman built the entire church. Wood's sawmill cut the lumber. She was a Shultes. Martin Tubb's place which was just beyond Kent's place is now gone and it was beautiful. So was the Wilson place. Tubbs did all the inside work on the church, trimming around the windows and a beautiful altar rail all turned by hand on a foot lathe. The new church was dedicated in 1888. It had a large congregation and lots of suppers. I've seen it full and running over.
My father took up a collection for a bell but it didn't suit him so he added quite a sum and, of course, sent to Switzerland for the bell. It was beautiful. No bongs or clangs. It rang out like a clarion so clear and sweet. They liked to hear it down in Switzkill and all through the valley. The last time it was tolled was for my grandfather who lived to be eighty-six. [ Isaac Vedder Shultes (1827-1912)]. The bellman waited five minutes between each toll. I thought it would never stop. That's the last time I heard it ring.
- Transcribed by Terry Sholtes
- Helderberg West Mountain Church Article - Altamont Enterprise - November 26, 1992
- ↑ Jack McEneny, former Albany County Historian and now State Assemblyman