Prendergast Library Enters Sandstone Hall Of Fame In Medina
Editor’s Note: This story is reprinted with permission from The Orleans Hub.
MEDINA — Three buildings that were built in the late 1800s from local Medina Sandstone were inducted Thursday afternoon into the Medina Sandstone Society’s Hall of Fame.
The new inductees include the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church/Lafayette Lofts in Buffalo, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Clifton Springs and the James Prendergast Free Library in Jamestown.
The Medina Sandstone Society started the Hall of Fame in 2013 and has now inducted 27 structures into the exclusive club. There are plaques for the inductees inside City Hall at the main meeting room.
The Sandstone Society accepts nominations each year. So far, 54 places have been nominated. Don Colquhoun, one of the Hall of Fame Committee members, said many other prominent sites worthy of induction have yet to be nominated.
Colquhoun and Jim Hancock, president of the Sandstone Society and chairman of the HOF Committee, said there will be new inductees for many years to come.
“We’re not even close,” Colquhoun said about honoring all of the awesome Medina Sandstone sites.
The Sandstone Society wants to recognize well-maintained buildings and other sandstone sites that are unique and architecturally significant. The society has inducted churches, public buildings, private buildings and ornamental buildings/structures.
“We have truly been amazed at the multitude of buildings from this seemingly indestructible building material,” Hancock said.
The new inductees include:
¯ Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church/Lafayette Lofts in Buffalo
The Lafayette Presbyterian Church had the building constructed at the corner of Lafayette and Elmwood avenues in 1894.
The church is a sterling example of the use of Medina Sandstone in the Romanesque Revival style with a large cruciform floor plan and an attached rear chapel. Lafayette was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.
More recently, the rear of this historic church building was repurposed into the Lafayette Lofts, offering a number of modern living spaces, culinary center, the office and meeting spaces without compromising the original architectural design and beauty.
“It is a great example of historic preservation at its best,” said Don Colquhoun, a member of the Hall of Fame Committee.
¯ St. John’s Episcopal Church in Clifton Springs
Andrew VanBuren, rector at St. John’s, said the congregation takes great pride in the church building.
Construction of this church on Main Street in this Ontario County village was completed in 1883, after the cornerstone was laid in 1879.
The church’s Belgian Gothic style makes this edifice remarkably unique. The Medina sandstone was brought by barge from Medina along the Erie Canal to Port Gibson and transported by wagon or sleds to the build site.
“If you visit Clifton Springs and drive down Main Street, heading east and look up, you’ll see this beautiful Medina Sandstone church silhouetted on the horizon, welcoming you to this historic village,” Hancock said.
Andrew VanBuren, the rector at St. John’s the past 3 Ç years, said the church of 35-40 attendees faced a $50,000 project to repoint stones. The congregation raised the funds and is determined to not let the building fall into disrepair.
“It’s important for us to have a structure that welcomes people,” he said.
He praised the generations before him that have worked so hard with the building.
¯ James Prendergast Free Library, Jamestown
The Prendergast family donated the money to build a library in Jamestown in memory of James Prendergast, son of this Chautauqua County city’s founder. Architect A.J. Warner of Rochester was given $65,000 to design and build a 127-foot by 100-foot structure that was completed in 1891 after 11 years of effort.
This sturdy-looking building was built of rock-faced Medina sandstone in the Richardsonian Romanesque style.
The use of contrasting gray and red sandstone, curved arches over the entrance and a lovely turret on the southeast corner give the library a uniquely enchanting appearance.
In the 1960s, an expansion and modernization project added 16,500 square feet to the library, but the Medina Sandstone south side entrance and interior rooms remained largely unchanged and still retain all the charm that the Prendergast family would have appreciated.
Tina Scott, Prendergast library director the past 10 years, said the sandstone building is so sound it was once used as a bomb shelter. She loves the marble floors inside and the alternating sandstone colors, the red and gray.
The building is a source of pride in the Jamestown community, she said.
“It was built to last,” she said. “You don’t see them built like that these days.”
Scott said she didn’t known there has a Medina Sandstone Hall of Fame until recently when she was notified the Jamestown library would be inducted. She praised the organizers for their local pride and for recognizing the outstanding sites.
“It’s awesome because you’re keeping the history of your town alive,” she said.
Takeform Architectural Graphics in Medina has donated all of the plaques in the Hall of Fame. The local company also did a redesign of the display, which was running out of room for new inductees. The new display has room for another four or five years, Hancock said.
Bill Hungerford, president of Takeform, has been a Sandstone Society supporter and member since the group started in 2004.
The Prendergast Library is the second Jamestown building recognized by the Hall of Fame. First Lutheran Church was honored in 2017. According to the Sandstone Society’s website, First Lutheran congregation was organized by Swedish immigrants in 1856. The construction of their present beautiful cathedral made entirely of red Medina sandstone was started in 1892 and completed in 1901. It is a magnificent structure and includes a 153-foot-tall bell tower which still functions today. The congregation takes great pride in maintaining the beauty of the church which dominates the city’s skyline. Many internal and external improvements and restorations have occurred over the years. The interior includes a historic 1901 Hook and Hastings pipe organ rebuilt in 1955, two tiered seating, and numerous beautifully detailed stained glass windows.