Neighborhood Highlights

Zion Church

Original Zion Church

From Through The Years in Little Neck and Douglaston
by George C. and Ernestine H. Fowler

The above picture shows how the original Zion Episcopal Church, Parish of Little Neck, looked before it was destroyed by fire on Christmas Eve of 1924. The church, built in 1830, was erected at the instigation of Wynant Van Zandt, who donated the property and funds for the building. The project was a community affair, since many of the residents contributed time and materials for the building. The edifice was constructed of wood from trees cut on the Van Zandt estate. A sawmill was brought to the scene to prepare the lumber and everybody helped with the work. The original church had no middle aisle and the pews were made of pine. Dedication ceremonies were held on June 17, 1830.

Zion Episcopal Church

"Shortly after the disastrous fire of 1924, the church was rebuilt, using a modern design. More rooms were added and the church itself was somewhat larger. The new church was ready for formal opening on December 25, 1925. In 1929, fire broke out again and destroyed the chancel, sacristy and the choir rooms. When rebuilt, the sacristy was enlarged to provide a study for the rector. The White Church on the Hill -- as it was called -- is shown above. A portion of the newer section of the churchyard may be seen in the foreground. The original graveyard area is west of the church buildings."


Detailed History


(From a booklet published by Zion Church)

In the year 1813, the land on which Zion Church is situated - and the surrounding area - was in the possession of the Van Wyck family. This year saw one of the last mail deliveries by stagecoach at the Little Neck Post Office at Alley Pond, and that year Wyant Van Zandt, as prosperous city merchant and alderman, acquired 120 acres along the shores of Little Neck Bay and settled down to the life of a farmer with his sons to help him. The family lived in the old Colonial house on West Drive, Douglaston, now owned by the Larson family. Here they lived until 1819 when the "mansion" now occupied by the Douglaston Club supplanted the Van Wyck house and became the Manor house of the old farm. Mistress Van Zandt was the mother of seven sons and four daughters, and the new house with its big square rooms must have been none too large.


Wyant Van Zandt and his wife Maria were good neighbors in this community, gaining the friendship of other farmers who cooperated with him in breaking through the meadow which now crosses Northern Boulevard, saving the long way around Alley Pond and shortening market trips to the city. Much later, in the process of widening and straightening the Boulevard, previously called Broadway, the site of the Matinicoc Indians' last battle and the graves of the slain were cut into, and the Indian remains were transferred to Zion Churchyard.

The Van Zandt family were faithful in their religious duties and drove to Christ Church, Cow Neck, Manhasset, where Wyant Van Zandt was a communicant, to attend the services conducted by the Reverend Eli Wheeler, brother of Maria. Wyant Van Zandt also established regular Sunday worship in the East parlor of his home and later built an octagonal structure with two wings to serve as a chapel.

A Church for Little Neck

When, after a few years, Mr. Wheeler took the rectorship of a church in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, Mr. Van Zandt broached the subject of a church for Little Neck, as this community was then called. Finally, he decided with the help of his neighbors to build the church himself. So his chief gift to this community was the donation of land and funds for the building of Zion Episcopal Church and Sunday School. All of the following signed a "document" pledging funds for the building: Wyant Van Zandt, Roe Haviland, Philip Allen, Eliza Allen, Richard Allen, Jeffrey Hicks, Joseph L. Hewlett, Jerome Van Nostrand, William Haviland, Thomas Hicks, Henry S. Cornell, Charles Peters, Richard Place, Thomas Foster, Jeremiah Valentine, Robert Van Zandt, Edward Van Zandt, and Washington Van Zandt.

The New York architect Upjohn furnished the plans; Stephen Cornell was the builder, and Will Buhrman of Alley Road, the painter. All of the materials which went into its construction, except the glass for the windows, came from local sources. What the people could not give in cash they gave in labor and materials. The smith at the Alley hammered out the hand-wrought hardware and nails; Van Zandt and his neighbors cut their finest trees for beams and rafters, and a sawmill was brought to the scene to prepare the lumber. Even the boys were allowed the task of making the shingles for the bell tower.

At a great neighborhood raising the cornerstone was laid in 1829. The building was completed and opened for worship according to the usages of the Protestant Episcopal Church on June 17, 1830. Records recounting the raising of the church and its dedication include the names of nearly every family in the vicinity and the supper table set out on the grounds to celebrate its completion stretched half a block down the road.


Bishop William Henry Hobert of the Protestant Episcopal Church of New York formally consecrated the brown church with the square tower and the cemetery on July 30, 1830. And they called it Zion, the Hebrew word "Tsiyon" meaning hill, also "Heavenly." Perhaps they were thinking of Psalm 48 "Beautiful for situation is mount Zion" and certainly so were the church and its grounds.

First Rector

The Reverend Eli Wheeler was brought to Zion Church as its first rector and he served until 1837. A description of the congregation from an observer of the time follows: "I looked over the congregation and observed them carefully as I came with them out of the house at the close of the service, and saw that they were rural and simple folk; not rude, but unfamiliar with what is called the world; and under the wise teachings of their noble pastor and preacher they were being trained intelligently for the true enjoyment of religion and for the glory beyond the skies. Happy people!"

The original church building had neither chancel nor middle aisle. The elevated pulpit stood against the wall before the people, and below it on the ground floor, surrounded by a railing, was the plain "Communion Table" or Holy Table as it is called in the Prayer Book. It was the custom of the minister to wear the old-fashioned full-flowing surplice over his clothes together with a black stole, which he would change just before the sermon and appear in the pulpit gowned in a black robe with white hands at his collar front.

Wyant Van Zandt died in 1831 at the age of 64. His body was interred in the family vault beneath the church, its only monument being the marble tablet to his memory upon the church wall above the vault. Six other adults and four children were also interred in the vault. The Parish has records on each, and their remains were lowered below the new floor during the 1965 consecration.

Although Henry Van Zandt continued to live on a part of the farm after the death of his father, the major portion of the land was purchased in 1835 by George Douglass, "a Scot of quiet tastes and great wealth," and its name changed to that of the newcomer, "Point Douglass." The Douglass family were active members of Zion Church and contributed the chancel of the church, stained glass windows, and an organ in 1863-64.

In 1842, the Reverend Henry Marvin Beare came to Zion Church as its Rector. He was loved and respected not only by his parishioners, but also by all the community. An incident of embarrassment during his tenure was his discovery that the coachman, after driving the rector on his parish visits, had returned at night to these homes and robbed them of their silver and other valuables. The coachman hid the stolen goods in the belfry of the church, where the Reverend Beare discovered them quite by accident. The shock to him was very great, though naturally no one held the rector or the church responsible for the thefts. Dr. Beare's teaching was always based on the Book of Common Prayer and it is said that he distributed hundreds of copies of it as gifts.

Henry Bear died January 9, 1887, ending forty-five years of loving and faithful service to his parish and the community. The bronze tablet on the east wall of the church, presented in January of 1894 as the gift of the people, is to his memory.

Several rectors followed the Reverend Beare, and in 1902 the Reverend Albert Bentley came to Zion. His wife, Nellie, was organist and choir director. Many choir concerts, Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, and other plays were given under the direction of Mrs. Bentley.

Parish House

On October 3, 1896, the cornerstone was laid for the Parish House. The building was dedicated on May 23, 1897, and became the social center of the parish and the entire community. Bowling alleys had been built in the basement, monthly socials were held as well as annual fairs, strawberry festivals, church suppers, and other events. The rector, wardens, and vestry permitted outside organizations to use the Parish House free of charge, and there was always some kind of activity, even as there is today.

Since the neighborhood of Little Neck was growing fast, it was decided to call the new station "Douglaston." So, as part of Douglaston, Zion stood, in the simple design of a country wayside church with its square bell tower, for a period of 94 years.

1924 Fire and Re-Building

An outstanding event at Zion was the Children's Christmas Festival. In the year 1924 the children were all safely home and tucked in their beds after such an occasion when fire broke out in the old building. Every effort was made to check the flames, but they had made such devastating headway before the fire was discovered that is was of no avail.

The rector at the time was the Reverend Robert Black. Through the courageous efforts of Dr. Black and his wife, items of great historical value, the cross, the communion set, collection plates and candlesticks were rescued. The altar cloths and drapes were lost and the organ was ruined; the bell which had sounded for four generations fell from the blazing belfry and burst into fragments. The interior of the Parish House, recently rehabilitated, became a shambles.

The burning of Zion Church shocked the entire community. Expressions of sympathy came from all sides and promises of support from near and far without regard to creed or denomination. Community Church threw open its doors and its pastor, the Reverend Eugene Flipse, placed every facility at the service of Zion. The Christmas Holy Communion Service was held in the new Community Church building.

Steps were taken at once to rebuild, and Dr. Black called a meeting at which Aubrey G. Grantham was present. As originally built, the church was slightly short for its breadth. A longer nave, barrell-vaulted ceiling, and the possibility of a spire were debated. Mr. Grantham became the sole architect and the result was a dignified, restrained and scholarly performance, a restoration made perfect with additions which are part of the proper design of the Colonial period. The Architectural Record of March, 1927, showed the church as an illustration of simplicity and restraint in design.

The Parish House, rebuilt at the same time, was kept to the Colonial design and shares the dignity and simplicity of the church. The auditorium sets 150 persons, and is provided with stage equipment for theatricals. There was a good kitchen, and at the time the downstairs included a Guild Room and Boys Club Room. The builder was Samuel Lindbloom, also of the parish.

The following is a description of the church, open and ready for worship on Christmas, 1925: "The old floor and beams remained at the time of the rebuilding, except for the area destroyed by the crash of the bell; and of course the bell was rebuilt. The Colonial interior of the church has beauty of its own. No "dim" religious atmosphere was intended. Daylight pours through the open panes of glass, tinged here and there with a lavender hue. The sixteen-over-sixteen windows are beautifully proportioned, and the church is bright and full of quiet dignity and cheer. The pews are Colonial design, and comfortable.

"The altar rail encloses the completed apse, and the rounding curve of the wall is pierced at the top by three clear glass circular windows. Before the middle window rises a white cross that surrounds a frame of simple design serving as the reredos for the altar, and into its frame is a rich damask cloth of red and gold. With this lovely background the re-table of the altar supports on either side the ornate brass cross, the two eucharistic candlesticks and the flower vases. Just beneath, emblazoned in gold, are the words COME UNTO ME.

"The altar is in keeping with the church and offers no ornament but a white painted wood-carved medallion on its front of the pelican feeding her life's blood to her brood, and symbolizes our Lord feeding the faithful with the Blessed Sacrament.

"On one side of the Sanctuary is the Bishop's Chair; opposite, the clergy chair. The choir stalls are arranged in the chancel, and the organ chamber is to one side of the choir. The Baptismal Font is to the front of the chancel. The Lectern, or reading desk, which supports the Holy Bible, is wrought in brass in the form of the conventional eagle. The pulpit is of brass and wood, and beside the pulpit stands the flag, symbol of the Soul of America. Simple Colonial candelabra serve for the electrically-lit chandeliers."

Fire broke out again in 1929 and destroyed the chancel, sacristy and the choir rooms. In rebuilding, the sacristy was enlarged to provide a study for the rector.

Several years later an attempt was made to introduce into the church pseudo-Gothic or Medieval features which would have required a complete alteration of the existing structure. A majority of the parishioners felt this would produce a synthetic atmosphere of ritual, foreign in thought and infinitely removed from the faith and spirit of the original founders. Strong protest blocked such a move and the simple dignity of the Protestant Episcopal Parish Church endures.

Later additions to the church include the bronze plaque at the church gate, inscribed "Out of the Woods My Master Came," which was a feature of the centennial celebration in June, 1930. The carving on the same theme, inset behind the altar, is believed to have been created by the Norwegian sculptor, Tryglive Hammer. The frontal of Coronation Tapestry was given to the church by the Altar Guild at the time the altar step was removed.

The three clear glass circular windows have been replaced by stained glass as a memorial to Mrs. Theresa Gabler, and were installed during the tenure of the Reverend Marland W. Zimmerman, who served as rector from 1944-48.

The Credence Table at the east of the Altar supports the silver cruets, a gift of the Woman's Guild, and there is another flag now to the west of the Chancel, the Church Flag, the red cross on a white field being the oldest Christian symbol.

At the south end of the church the balcony front was altered in 1959 to accommodate a new Moeller organ. This fine instrument was given as a memorial to Elizabeth Vanston Morgan, long-time resident of Douglaston and a member of the Altar Guild. The choir stalls were moved from the Chancel to the balcony at this time, happily yielding an unobstructed view of the curved sweep of the chancel wall and altar.

In the vestibule of the church is a tablet inscribed with the names of several parishioners who, in 1950, gave the tower bells now in use.

In the unusual winter of 1994 handicap access to the church was achieved by installing a three-station elevator on the east side of the building; entry is a ground-level vestibule, with stops on the main floor and in the undercroft. During construction of the lift it was discovered that a new flue was needed in the chimney and near-record snows of that year created problems for workers and parishioners. Later in the spring the altar was brought closer to the congregation by removing one step in the chancel and moving the altar rail to pew-level.


On September 11, 1964, during of the Reverend Canon Everett J. Downes; an ambitious program for the preservation and expansion of our facilities was started. It was found necessary to replace some of the old timbers found under the church, left from the original 1830 building, and it was decided to dig out under the present church and put in a full basement.

The Parish Co-chairmen of the project were William H. Borst and William H. Williamson, Jr.; the architect was Guercino Salerni of Long Island City, and the builder was W. Frank Wilkinson of College Point. The ten new rooms with space for classrooms, choir practice, robing accommodations for the choirs and acolytes, and a spacious library, are 'bright and commodious, and can be reached from either the back or front of the church by stairways. New furniture was provided for the rooms as gifts or memorials from parishioners. The office on the first floor was greatly enlarged at this time.


Before the present rectory was built, Dr. Beare occupied a residence which stood on the south side of Northern Boulevard and was given to the rector, rent-free, by Mr. William F. Douglass, and, no doubt, his father. At a meeting of the Vestry on April 23, 1989, the rector reported that the late George Hewlett had in his will bequeathed $1,000 to the church, the interest to be given annually to the rector, or, in the event that a parsonage was to be built, the entire amount to be appropriated to that project.

In 1889 the Minister-in-Charge, the young Reverend William S. Barrows, inaugurated the campaign for building the Beare Memorial Rectory on the two-and-one-half acres of land facing Douglaston Parkway, purchased for $250 one hundred years ago. A second $1,000 was given by the Hon. John A. King and about $2,000 from the congregation, so that forty-one years after buying the land for that purpose sufficient money was at last on hand to build, and the rectory was completed in 1890. Edgar Lewis Sanford was the first rector to occupy it. The name of the man in whose memory it was built was intended to be inscribed on the stained-glass shield at the landing of the stairs to the second floor. The sexton's cottage, later removed, was built in 1861 on part of the ground adjoining the churchyard.


An acre of land to the east and west of the church was added in 1834 by a gift from Joseph de Forest, and was to be used as a cemetery. In 1885 Bloodgood H. Cutter deeded an additional two acres to the east of the church in memory of his wife. Burial plots were first laid out on the west side and here can be found the names of most of the original "document" contributors. The whole of the grounds now comprised nearly seven acres.


Matinoc Memorial

In 1957 a city block across from the rear of the Parish House was purchased, and an acre and a half of asphalt-paved land now serves
as a parking lot.

The Churchyard is on high ground and has no atmosphere of death and corruption which characterizes an old neglected spot. The grounds are attended and the "winds of heaven" blow through the trees.

A memorial to the Matinicoc Indians was dedicated on Sunday, November 1,1931 marking the closure of their ancestral burial grounds on Northern Boulevard and Jesse Court in Little Neck. The site of the re interring is marked with a tribal symbol, a tree growing from a split rock.

Surely in these cemetery grounds can be felt the spirit of our well-known hymn,

The mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won.

In the Easter, 1973, Zion monthly Bulletin, a piece entitled "A Churchyard Stroll" appeared from which the following is quoted: "Helen Drewes, landscape architect and the Douglaston Garden Club's tree expert has listed Zion's outstanding trees:

"West of the driveway, yellowwoods, a ginko, large old Japanese maples, and a cultivated sweet cherry which is the largest in the vicinity and was obviously planted by early settlers.

"East of the circling driveway, a white ash, identifiable by diamond-shaped markings of the bark; another white ash but in poor condition on the west side of the driveway; a Chinese elm southeast of the main entrance, its small thumb-sized leaves giving it a feathery effect; several black locusts set back from and along the main drive.

"Along the 'within-cemetery' driveway, on the left before the bend, a hackberry tree, sometimes known as witch's broom; Sophora, or pagoda tree - when older it has sweet smelling white blossoms wisteria-like in shape. On the right, after the bend, two Kentucky coffee trees, specimens and very old. Their name is derived from the fact that early Kentucky pioneers used the beans in place of unprocurable coffee.

"Among trees planted as memorials in recent years, enhancing the pleasing prospects of a Churchyard stroll, are a Japanese maple at Lawrence Harvey's grave, a red hawthorn given by the Garden Club in loving memory of Edith King, and a pink dogwood to scatter its petals over eleven-year old David Scanlan, which not long afterwards sheltered his mother and father as well�"

A dogwood was placed near the Northern Boulevard wall and west of the driveway in 1989 by the Douglaston Garden Club in memory of Catharine Turner Richardson.

Churchyard Tour

In 1995 a tour of the churchyard was developed beginning at the large stone "Cutter" cross just west of the building. Here are the weathered markers of families who buried loved ones following the 1830 dedication: Haviland, Allen, Cornell, Hicks, Lawrence. Just south of here is a stone marked "Mary Buhrman." Between the stone and the white barn is the grave of Benjamin Lowerre. He purchased a general store and grist mill from the descendants of the Foster family, who had settled Allen Creek in 1637. Mary Lowerre married William C. Buhrman, whose name was associated with the store and mill in later years. The Alley was important because, before the road crossing the Creek and later named Northern Boulevard was built, the only route east and west went through the Alley just south of Alley Pond.

Between the "Caroline Bissell" cross and the barn is the Edwin Lawrence stone. This family owned burial plots on the east and west sides of the early churchyard, and they owned the section that was later developed as Marathon Park.

Farther south are several plots marked by low railings: the first belongs to Albert S. Griffin, an early Douglaston resident who traveled abroad and has been credited with importing seedlings of a variety of exotic trees such as the weeping beach at the Douglaston train station. John Bennem and his son Charles were for many years the Little Neck village blacksmiths who operated a shop on Little Neck Parkway just south of where the Chase Bank now stands. The next plot is Henry Benjamin Cornell, a life-long member of Zion. The last railed plot is the Schenk-Hicks families. Benjamin Schenk was a partner of Schenk and Van Nostrand, who operated the General Store in a white wooden frame building on the current site of the Chase bank. Mrs. Schenk's father, John Hicks, owned several farms in the area between where the Long Island Expressway and the Grand Central Parkway currently lie.

Across the driveway and south of the "Cornell" bench is the plot of Alfred P. Wright, a wheelwright in Little Neck. The plot also contains a poignant stone for a daughter who died at the age of twelve, as well as an unusual cast-iron grave marker.

Closer to Northern Boulevard is the Hutton family plot, featuring another Victorian cast-iron marker. Behind the "Cornell" bench is one of the Hicks family plots.

The large "Bryce Rea" stone near Northern Boulevard is part of a more recently developed section containing the family plots of many local merchants: John Gabler, Bryce Rea, Doyle Shaffer, and others. From here on a clear day the towers of lower Manhattan can be seen to the west.

In the midst of a grove of cedars is the marker for John Gibson who served as Sexton for Zion Church for many years. To the left is the marker of Charles Hallberg, who along with Donald Kirkpatrick moved their families to Douglaston when Queens College was founded in 1938. They were two of the original twenty-eight professors of the college. The Kirkpatrick stone lies flush with the ground near the tall pine tree.

The Matinecoc graves, to the north near 44th Avenue, are described elsewhere.

Toward the church from here is the "Mott" marker. This is the second oldest portion of the churchyard. Members of the Mott family lived in Douglaston since before the Revolutionary War. To the left is a marker for the Van Nostrand family, also long-time residents of the area.

Memorial Fund

The Memorial Fund was created in 1965 to give scope and direction for gifts to the church. There have been many gifts over the years, and, in addition to those mentioned in earlier parts of this history, are the following:

The Litany Desk (prie-dieu), designed in appropriate Colonial style by Aubry Granthan, was presented to Zion Parish by Mr. and Mrs. William Allen. When litanies are said, the desk is placed at the head of the aisle, to signify that prayer and the leading of prayer are rights of the people. The rector comes down among the congregation and prays with them.

The Altar has a plaque affixed to it which reads: "This Altar, set apart to God's honor and Worship at the solemn consecration of Zion Church, December 25, 1925. The loving gift of Mary Helmus."

The pulpit was given by Mrs. Mary Helmus in memory of her husband, Adolph, who died in November, 1920. The chalice and paten now in use were given anonymously in Lent, 1946.

A chair, used by the Bishop when visiting the church, was given as a memorial to Mary Edith King by the Woman's Guild in 1970.

In 1972 Richard Jundt hand-fashioned a four and one-half foot high cross from a railroad tie: he sanded it to a fine finish and applied many coats of white lacquer. The aumbry, or tabernacle, was given in the same year as an altar centerpiece by Marie and Charles Tuttle in memory of Mrs. Tuttle's parents, August H. and Emma N. Former.

In 1973 the Jacobean tapestry front, called a "carpet of silk," was donated by the Altar Guild. The chancel furniture was given in May of 1977 as a memorial to Canon Everett Downes. In 1978 an oriental prayer rug was given for use in front of the altar, again by Marie and Charles Tuttle in memory of Mrs. Tuttle's parents. Mabel Carlander of Deer Isle, Maine, hand-hooked the rug, choosing the pattern and colors to harmonize with the church carpeting. Helen and Marion Gunning added the fringe.

The Vestry purchased a thirteen-ounce gold-lined chalice for festive occasions, using the Sorenson Memorial Funds as the family requested, in December, 1975, in memory of Charles M. Sorenson.

White Eucharistic vestments for use at the great festivals in the Church Year were given to the Parish in October, 1975. The Chasuble is the gift of the Altar Guild, and the Dalmatic and Tunicle for the sacred ministers is the gift of Mrs. Donald Fenn in loving memory of her husband.

St. Catherine's Guild secured, in October, 1975, as a memorial to members Mrs. Louise Fasick and Miss Rose Stokes, a Coat of Arms of the Diocese in gilt and full heraldic colors by the artist Robert Robbins. The piece is installed on the choir gallery wall, and is also the gift of family and friends.

The symbol of the Risen Christ once affixed to a white cross above the altar was a memorial given by the Reverend Douglas A. Campbell on Easter Sunday, 1975, for his grandparents.

The church railings were given by Dorothy Cobleigh in 1988 in memory of here mother, Nell Gressitt Cobb. The 1982 Hymnals were given in 1986 by Marguerite Kirkpatrick as a memorial to her husband Donald Kirkpatrick.

The churchyard illumination and restoration of the lamps at the foot of the driveway were given in 1988 by the Vestry as a memorial for Antoinette (Toni) Hicks, longtime parishioner and devoted Douglaston resident.

On June 16, 1991, a white funeral pall was dedicated by Canon Cayless; the pall, with the Coronation Pattern design, and a lining of gold satin was given by the Zion Church Altar Guild and was partially funded by memorials for the Reverend Rex Burrell, rector of Zion Church 1970-86.

In 1996, the fence along Douglaston Parkway was improved and a garden at the corner of 44th Avenue was created in memory of Emil Brock.

Early Parishioners

A few words about some of the early workers for Zion. Mr. Henry S. Cornell, one of the eighteen signers of the document of 1829, had a large family. His sons, Archibald, Benjamin, and Henry all served as vestrymen. His son Augustine was the first young man from Zion to enter the ministry. His first church was the Episcopal Church in Nyack, New York, where he remained rector until his death at the age of seventy-four. This branch of the Cornell family has been active in Zion since 1830 and was represented by Alice Huestis, Clara Allen, Edna Randel Schulz, and Ruth Allen.

When Benjamin P. Allen died, Bloodgood Cutter, "The Farmer Post of Long Island," wrote:

No more at church on Sunday meet,
No more will we each other greet,
Vestry meetings he'll no more attend,
No more meet as friend to friend.

Mr. Cutter served on the Vestry for many years. At his death, most of his extensive library was given to Zion, including many books by Mark Twain. Cutter and Twain had traveled together extensively, and it is one of their trips to the Orient that prompted the writing of "Innocents Abroad." Unhappily, this library was destroyed in the fire of 1924.

Dr. Edward Trudeau was a Vestryman for two years and was married to the Reverend Beare's daughter Charlotte. He became ill of tuberculosis in 1872 and moved to the Adirondacks to dies in a place he loved. Surprised to find his health greatly improved after the first winter, he decided to stay on, making Saranac Lake his home for the forty remaining years of his life. He built Trudeau Sanitorium for the treatment of tuberculosis, and out of his own experience developed a method of treatment which was to have wide influence in the arresting of that disease.

Robert Louis Stevenson spent the years 1887-1888 at Saranac Lake as a patient of Dr. Trudeau and wrote some of his finest essays there. The Trudeau School of Tuberculosis grew out of the Saranac Laboratory and the memorial Foundation established after Dr. Trudeau's death.

Mr. William Buhrman ran the general store at Alley Pond in 1828. The store served the neighborhood for nearly a hundred years, and it was in this store that the first Post Office of Flushing Township was established. Mail was brought by stagecoach, post rider, and boat. Mr. Buhrman and his son William gave generously to Zion.

Lewis Cornell from Little Neck, the only Revolutionary soldier buried at Zion, joined the militia and served under Colonel Humphrey in the Fifth Regiment of Dutchess County. He returned home to become active in civic affairs, and in 1798 was chairman of the Town Meeting in Flushing which petitioned the repeal of the Alien and Sedition Acts. He died in 1836 and was buried in the Cornell homestead cemetery. When Horace Harding Boulevard was widened all the remains from this cemetery were interred at Zion.

Civil War veterans buried at Zion are C. A. Bissel, William Pudney, W. H. Doremmus, W. H. Brower, John Cutter, W. Thurston, W. E. Cornell, John Starkins, Albert Griffin, Theodore Lambertson, Joseph Starkins, Horace Leek, William Corey, and John King.

The Zion Centennial Ode, music by long-time organist, Lyra Nicholas, and words by Reverend Lester Leake Riley, closes this history:

Our grateful memory and praise
Upon those villager of yore
Who drove their dust trailed wagon ways
Before its ever-welcome door.

Beneath the grass and trees they rest
While flowers flecked with dew and sun
Mark this dear spot they loved the best
Now their brief day of life is done.

Rectors Who Have Served Zion Church

  • The Rev. Eli Wheeler (1830-1837)
  • 1837-1842 (no Rector)
  • The Rev. Henry Beare (1842, Minister in charge; 1845-1887, Rector)
  • The Rev. William Stanley Barrows (1888-1890)
  • The Rev. Edgar L. Sanford (1890-1892)
  • The Rev. Charles N. F. Jeffrey (1892-1898)
  • Dr. John B. Blanchet (1898-1901)
  • The Rev. Robert M. W. Black (1901-1902)
  • The Rev. Robert Bentley (1902-1917)
  • The Rev. Robert Black (1918-1928)
  • Dr. Lester L. Riley (1928-1942)
  • Dr. Henry Santorio (1943, Locum,. Tenes)
  • The Rev. Marland Zimmerman (1943-1948)
  • Canon Everett J. Downes (1948-1969)
  • The Rev. Rex Littledale Burrell (1970-1986)
  • Canon Phillip L. Lewis (1987, Interim Priest-In-Charge)
  • The Rev. Dallas B. Decker (1987-1990)
  • Interim Priests-In-Charge (1900-1992):
    • Canon F. Anthony Cayless
    • Canon James C. Wattley
    • The Ven. Roper L. Shamhart
  • The Rev. Patrick J. Holtkamp (1992- )