Brief History of a Long Island Landmark: Massapequa's Old Grace Church

LongIsland.com

A look at one of the most noteworthy buildings in all of Massapequa, and the society that sees to its upkeep.

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Old Grace Church, located on Merrick Road in Massapequa.

Photo by: Chris Boyle

Massapequa, NY – April 26, 2018 - When traveling down Merrick Road in Massapequa, amid the hustle and bustle of all of the retail shopping and dining establishments vying for your attention, you may have noticed a quaint old church set back from the busy roadway, its wooden shingles and old-fashioned construction standing out amongst its neighboring buildings and homes. This is Old Grace Church, one of the most noteworthy landmarks in all the area, and current home of the Massapequa Historical Society.


Old Grace Church, one of the most noteworthy landmarks in all the of the Massapequas. Photo Credit: Chris Boyle

Erected in the year 1844, Old Grace Church was built to serve the area’s Episcopal population on land donated by the Floyd-Jones family. Costing $1,300 to construct, the building is in a Gothic Revival style and features a square bell tower with a spire, and was originally covered with clapboard shingles and adored with diamond-shaped stained glass windows. In the early 1900’s, the church was extensively renovated to fit more parishioners – up to 150 – and it’s now-familiar wooden shingles were installed, replacing the clapboard ones.


Erected in the year 1844, Old Grace Church was built to serve the area’s Episcopal population on land donated by the Floyd-Jones family.
 Photo Credit: Chris Boyle

Old Grace Church is surrounded by a parish cemetery, the Floyd-Jones family cemetery, and various other historical buildings. It served as the only church in Massapequa until after World War II; in 1960, Grace Episcopal Church – a much larger venue – was built directly across the street when the original church was deemed no longer sufficiently large enough to serve its growing parish. Old Grace Church continued to serves various functions, however, but was later officially deconsecrated and retired in 1981. The church’s original Tiffany windows were removed and re-installed across the street at the new Grace Church; replacement windows were procured from a church located in New Jersey.


In 1983, Old Grace Church was granted National Landmark Status by the United States Department of the Interior.
 Photo Credit: Chris Boyle

Several years later being retired from active service, Old Grace Church was given to the Massapequa Historical Society, a volunteer-driven non-profit group founded to help maintain and preserve the church; they would later expand the scope of their services to encompass all historical aspects of Massapequa. In 1983, Old Grace Church was granted National Landmark Status by the United States Department of the Interior.


Costing $1,300 to construct, the building is in a Gothic Revival style and features a square bell tower with a spire.
 Photo Credit: Chris Boyle

In addition to seeing to the upkeep and preservation of the Old Grace Church, the Historical Society also attends to other buildings on the Church’s grounds – The Delancey Floyd-Jones Free Library and the Elbert Floyd-Jones Servants Cottage – as well as other historic places throughout the area, serving to establish a living, breathing chronicle of the life and times of the South Shore’s very first community, founded originally in 1696.


In the early 1900’s, the church was extensively renovated to fit more parishioners.
 Photo Credit: Chris Boyle

The Historical Society, currently headed up by President Charles Mackie, holds two important fundraising events on the grounds of Old Grace Church every year to support the work that his group of volunteers takes on when to comes to preserving Massapequa’s rich heritage- a fall Apple Festival and a summer Strawberry Festival, both popular long-time events that serve to bring the community together.


Old Grace Church is surrounded by a parish cemetery.
 Photo Credit: Chris Boyle

“We’ve been holding the Apple and Strawberry Festivals since the 1970’s,” said long-time Historical Society member Bill Colfer. “They’re some of our major fundraising events to keep the Historical Society going. It’s designed to raise awareness in Massapequa of who we are, what we do, and why we’re here. Most people are unaware of the age and history of the Massapequas, and it’s the job of the Historical Society to keep the knowledge of that rich history alive and freely available to local residents.”


Several years later being retired from active service, Old Grace Church was given to the Historical Society of the Massapequas.
 Photo Credit: Chris Boyle

To learn more about the Massapequa Historical Society and to set up a tour of Old Grace Church, please visit their website.