First United Presbyterian Church.
This first church was constructed in 1849-1850 on a lot donated
by James Heaton on the southwest corner of North Main and Church
Streets. The plan of the church was colonial in effect and had
two front entrances facing Main St. The pulpit was located between
the two front doors and floor sloped upward to the rear of the
church. In the mid 1860's the interior was remodeled and the pulpit
moved to the rear of the sanctuary. PO1.363
The second meeting place of the First Presbyterian
Church. This account was taken from the church history published
“Mrs. Maria Kyle, a venerable
resident of Niles for eighty years, who served as a teacher in
the little brick school building, which stood on the site just
in the rear of the present church, recalled that services were
held in the school building as late as 1849, when, she believed,
the church building was started.” PO1.362
1834 Heaton Village map showing platting of lots.
The original First Presbyterian Church was built on the plat set
aside for the village public school. PO1.652
First Presbyterian Church, organized in 1839,
this building was constructed in 1892 at a cost of $12,000.00.
It was an imposing red brick structure.
Picture of the west side of North Main Street
to West Park Avenue before the construction of the McKinley Memorial.
The First Presbyterian Church was built in 1892 and torn down
in 1957. PO1.365
The Presbyterian denomination came to the Northwest
Territory, of which Niles is a part, by a large number of men
and women of Scotch-Irish descent, fleeing from persecution in
In 1839, learning of their wish to form a church
in Niles, Eben Blachly offered the use of his home for
meetings. This building was also a boarding school and still stands
on Vienna Avenue. As the population of the town increased the
congregation began to plan to erect a building. In August of 1843,
Mrs. Eliza Heaton, daughter-in-law of James Heaton,
was received into membership and Session minutes record the gift
of land from him for the new church. The location gave the first
Presbyterian Church a prominent location in the center of the
Construction of the building began, using timbers
from local forests, while other materials were brought in by canal
boats. It is said that as many as 75 of these passed through Niles
in a day. It was on the tow path for this canal that James
Garfield drove his team of mules, passing through Niles on
The congregation continued to grow and by 1889
plans were being made for a new building. The contract entered
into in 1892 listed the cost at $8,400, with the old building
to be moved to a lot behind Robbins Avenue Lumber Company. The
new building was dedicated on September 4, 1892.
It is interesting to note that in July, 1911,
permission was granted by the session to the Lutheran congregation
to use the church auditorium two Sundays each month until they
were able to secure a permanent place to worship. During this
same time a similar arrangement was made with the Hungarian congregation
until they could organize their church and Sunday school.
In the 1950s there was much new church construction
in Niles. With a membership of over a thousand, a larger building
was needed and in 1957, on land given by Mrs. C. Homer Rose,
that the new building on Robbins Avenue opened its doors.
It is part of the history of the church that
many of the founders of the town and those who are part of its
history through the years have been members of this congregation,
Submitted by Anne Townley
Congregation Says Farewell
to Niles Presbyterian Church.
Aug 31, 2020
NILES — Canfield resident Kim Lisowski, who grew
up in Niles, said three generations of her family attended the
First Presbyterian Church of Niles, so it was bittersweet that
she and her parents, Tom and Janice Semple of
Niles, would all be there together for the final service at the
church building Sunday evening. More than 50 people, including
former members and people from other area Presbyterian churches,
gathered Sunday for the final service at the church. The congregation
voted in June to dissolve and officials are in the process of
selling the building.
The Rev. Rusty Cowden, retired minister
from Warren Presbyterian Church, led the final worship. “Tonight
we are honoring, celebrating and remembering the church and the
many people who have worshiped and served here. We are saying
goodbye to this wonderful building” he said.
Cowden said the previous Presbyterian church
was located in downtown Niles. The congregation, which was growing
in number, saw a need for a new building and moved to the current
site off Robbins Avenue in the late 1950s. “They built this
magnificent church building, which is a half block long with the
large tower and sanctuary and the stained glass windows,”
he said. Cowden said before the service, he walked the grounds
and saw the patio area with the fountain and gardens. He said
members will always have memories of the music by the choir and
organist, the sermons, the dinners and the many programs.
The final song the congregation sang before the
benediction was “Amazing Grace.”
Following the service was a small reception with refreshments
and a table set up with photo albums and other memorabilia of
David Snyder, chairman of the board
of elders, said church officials are in talks with a potential
buyer. He said members are planning to transfer to other Presbyterian
churches in Warren and Mineral Ridge.
Anne Townley, a longtime member from
Niles, said she remembers when the church had so many people in
attendance that folding chairs had to be put up in the aisles
since the pews were filled to capacity.
“There were hundreds of people here. The
parking lot was filled and other cars were parked on Robbins Avenue
and other streets. There were so many people here the fire chief,
who was a member, was worried since we lit candles on Christmas
Eve,” Townley said.
She said being able to be at the last service
was wonderful for her.
“The more things change, the more they really stay the same,”
she said of seeing many familiar faces at the service that she
remembered from years past.
Townley and her late husband James moved
to their home in 1956 across the street from the church and first
attended the former church before the new church was built in
Townley said the church’s women’s
association was very active in the church, the community and with
mission work. The women also each week served the Niles Rotary
Club members lunch at their meetings at the church.
She said the church dinners, including the popular
annual pork and sauerkraut dinner held each fall, often had more
than 300 people attending, which she said also worried the fire
David Paulik of Cincinnati, formerly
of Niles and a past member, said it was the church he started
attending as boy that eventually led to him entering the ministry.
“The first church I preached at was here.
My earliest memories of the church was when I was on the school
bus and we drove by and I saw the huge church tower and wondered
about the church so one Sunday I rode my bike here. I was welcomed
that Sunday, which was a family day, with lunch and activities.
I am forever grateful to this church,” Paulik said.
He said he will always remember a sign at the
one corner of the church that says “Enter to Worship. Leave
Tom Semple of Niles said his mother was the one
who brought he and his siblings to church faithfully. Later, he
and his wife, Janice, did with their own children.
“The church has been a wonderful place
for us. The choir is fantastic. It is hard to believe that the
church is closing. It hurts,” he said.
Niles resident Al Latil said, “Diane
Yazvac of Boardman has served the congregation for 30 years
as organist, often accompanied by her husband Thomas
and their three daughters as singers and instrumentalists”.
He said the music made the church popular to those who enjoyed
attending choir concerts.