Our current brown stone sanctuary is over 100 years old. The building, which was dedicated on May 5, 1895, is modeled after the First Presbyterian Church of Cherry Valley, New York. John Goldsmith Payntar donated most of the funds for the construction of our sanctuary. The words "Payntar Memorial" appear over the archway to the sanctuary's main entrance.
In addition to our sanctuary, FPCN has a Social Hall where concerts, church dinners, and other events are held.
We are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the official list of the nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.
The dedication plaque in our sanctuary narthex acknowledges the gift of John Goldsmith Payntar.
The sanctuary was designed by Queens architect Frank A. Collins to fulfill the wish of the building's donor that it be modeled on an 1873 church in Cherry Valley, New York. The imposing edifice is significant as an example of high Victorian Gothic Revival style ecclesiastic architecture executed in granite and sandstone located in the Queens neighborhood of Elmhurst. The building is a rare example of a church designed by Collins. His career as the New York City Department of Education's deputy superintendent of buildings for Queens included overseeing the construction of some fifty school buildings in the borough. The sanctuary is also one of his largest private commissions.
The cornerstone, located on the northwest corner of the sanctuary, was laid in 1893. According to a contemporary newspaper, the cornerstone contained a time capsule meant to be opened at some future date. The cornerstone contains the following items in a copper box:
- paperweight made of wood cut from the Mount of Olives
- picture of John Goldsmith Payntar, donor of the money that built the sanctuary
- souvenir coin of the 1893 Columbian Exposition
- pictures of the church, Sunday School, and parsonage in 1893
- anniversary sermon preached by Rev. John Goldsmith on his 30th anniversary in 1849
- brief histories of the Sunday School, Women's Missionary Society, and Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor
- copies of printed matter related to Rev. Jacob Mallman (FPCN's pastor at the time) and FPCN, including the invitation and program for the cornerstone laying
- copies of the Newtown Register, Newtown Journal, and Newtown Sun
- business card of Mr. Nash, who carved the cornerstone
- sealed package from John Goldsmith Payntar's widow
The sanctuary was dedicated on May 5, 1895.
The sanctuary originally had a tall steeple which doubled the height of the present building. The steeple cost $4,000. It was removed before the sanctuary was moved in 1924. There were no plans to replace it. The moving contract specifies "removal of the spire to a point considered safe by the Engineer and later finishing it off to form a tower." The steeple seemed to leak and rot almost from the time it was built.
Bell. The 85-foot-high tower houses the old bell from the Old White Church. The bell was cast by Gerit Bakker, Rotterdam, in 1788. It seems to have been cast for a church in Maryland. The inscription on the bell is: "Fur die Evangelisch Lutherische Gemeinde fur Elizabet Stadt in der Grafchaft Washington Staate Maryland," which means, "For the Evangelical Lutheran Parish for Elizabeth City in the County of Washington, State of Maryland." In December 1999, FPCN rededicated this bell after a successful campaign to restore it. The bell sits in the tower today and is rung before every service.
Christian Endeavor Building. The sanctuary originally had a Christian Endeavor building which stood to the left of the bell tower. It served as a meeting place for the Christian Endeavor organization. When the sanctuary was moved in 1924, the Christian Endeavor building was demolished and replaced by the current Social Hall.
A contractor in Utica, New York agreed to paint over the pulpit arch an emblem consisting of the Bible and palms. Some church members remember that around the 1940s, the area above the organ pipes was painted light blue with white clouds. Arthur Wrench, a former member of FPCN, did many of the paintings and other artwork currently in the sanctuary. The inscription above the choir loft, below the cross, reads "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
Stained Glass Windows. For the sanctuary's construction, FPCN purchased a sample stained glass window from A. Passage. The other windows were made by noted New York City stained-glass artists Sellers & Ashley, practitioners of the opalescent style popular in the late 19th century and associated with Tiffany Studios, for whom both Benjamin Sellers and William J. Ashley also worked. They are typical of stained glass window design in the late 19th century. They have some of the opalized glass popularized by Tiffany.
A memorial window to Dr. John Goldsmith, pastor of FPCN from 1818 to 1854, was built into the window in the back of the sanctuary (on the side now facing Queens Blvd.), below the figure of Jesus. The window was not part of the Payntar's original plan, but Payntar's widow approved the use of funds for it after Sarah Prall (Goldsmith's daughter) requested.
Organ. In 1907, FPCN signed a contract with Ernest M. Skinner Co. of Boston to build and install an organ. Originally, the organ was located in the tiny room to the left of the choir loft. Another organ was built in 1940.
The Social Hall, built in 1931, contains an auditorium (with a stage and a full-length basketball court), a full kitchen, offices, and several classrooms. It replaced the Christian Endeavor building (which stood next to the sanctuary before the sanctuary was moved back in 1924 for the widening of Queens Blvd.) and the Old White Church (FPCN's previous sanctuary, which was used for Sunday School classes).
The Lounge (classroom 8), located downstairs, is used for small services, Youth Choir rehearsals (the room has an upright piano), and mid-sized meetings. Sunday School classes are held in the downstairs classrooms. The Lounge can be entered through the Seabury Street entrance (behind the sanctuary).
The auditorium is used for concerts, parties, and dinners. The annual Christmas Party, Easter pancake breakfast, and other large events are held in the auditorium. A full-size kitchen is located next to the auditorium.