Welcome to Christ Church; the first church founded in Binghamton. In 1810 shortly after Chenango Point, the original name for Binghamton, became a town, a small group of the town’s residents met in the Courthouse to form a church and named it St. Anne’s. This first church folded shortly after it’s beginning, probably due to lack of a building,and the infrequency of The Rev. Daniel Nash’s visits, the circuit rider assigned to the parish.
By 1816 a group of people consisting of some of the original parishioners met to reconstitute the church. This time they paid one dollar Joshua Whitney, the land agent for William Bingham, for an old academy building and a parcel of land. Bishop Hobart consecrated the church in 1818 and named it Christ Church. The original tract of land is the sight of the present day church, although the congregation first built an attractive wooden structure in the Gothic Style in place of the academy building.
Joshua Whitney did not live to see the present church built. He passed away in 1845, having dedicated his life to the building of the city. He had been the moving force in the establishment of Binghamton, having built the first Courthouse and a bridge over the Susquehanna River, and having assisted in the establishment of the Roman Catholic parish of St. Patrick’s on Leroy St. Whitney himself was a long-time member and vestryman of Christ Church. In his latter days, he became so heavy, (he weighed 300 pounds) he no longer able to fit into his pew. In those days, parishioners paid a yearly rent for their pews so Mr. Whitney asked the vestry if he could rent several pews and have the seats removed to create a larger space for him. The vestry refused and Mr. Whitney was forced to forgo attendance at church services. Thus arose the story that Mr. Whitney’s ghost haunts the church to this day.
In 1851, the Rev. Amos Beach was called as rector for a salary of $900. The Rev. Mr. Beach was a very strong and persuasive man and saw the need for a more substantial building. In a village with a population of 5000, where most of the buildings were wooden and none was of particular significance, Christ Church was to have a stone church designed by an architect of national importance: Richard Upjohn. Upjohn designed Trinity Church on Wall St., in NYC. John Stewart Wells, a young man of 31, guided the actual building of His commitment to Christ Church was to span his entire lifetime. Not only did he serve on the Vestry for many years, but in 1903 at the age of 81 he had the stone quarries in Guilford opened and stone cut to build the steeple which had been in the original plans, but hadn’t been built because of lack of funds. The entire construction was done at his expense. Mr. Wells also built the third courthouse and was elected mayor of Binghamton in 1883. The chime of 11 bells were added, also in 1903 as a bequest by Charles M. Jarvis.
The interior of the church was different than it is today. There was a curved communion rail. The marble hadn’t been installed. There was a window over the altar, and the other windows were plain glass outlined with red and blue glass. The choir stalls and organ were located on either side of the chancel in the nave. The cost of the building was $30,000, a sum that was large even at that time.
The next major change to the building occurred in 1910 at the celebration of the church’s centennial. Under the leadership of the Rev. Harry Longley, the Italian marble altar and reredos (the ornamentation on the walls of the chancel) were added, as well as the choir stalls, mosaic floor, altar rail and many of the stained glass windows were added and electricity was installed. The columns, which had been wooden, were replaced with Indiana limestone. The rood beam over the chancel steps and the Gorham rose window in the back of the church were added in 1918.
Since that time, improvements and repairs to the church include a new parish hall, a close, repointing of the exterior walls, replacement of the 150 year old slate roof, the addition of a memorial garden, and the rebuilding of the organ. To celebrate the 175th anniversary (1984), the four long windows on the west wall were replaced with stained glass from the Willet Studios.