History fails to record whether Seth Johnson was a visionary or merely a generous citizen. What history does record is that in 1797 he set aside a tract of land, carved out of the wilderness from the 20,000 acres of land he owned, and designated it to be forever used as a "Commons, to be used for public and religious purposes."
A few families were living on the Patent prior to 1797, having purchased land from Mr. Johnson. This hardy pioneer stock comprised the Patent's first settlers and its first Presbyterian, when on December 16, 1797, the Presbyterian Church was established under the oversight and direction of the Presbytery of Albany. In 1802 the church became a member of the Presbytery of Oneida. A log and wood plank church was built on the northeast corner of the Commons at the corner of park and Route 365 and a Reverend Mr. Fish was installed as pastor. Ever mindful of the needs of the people, during the fall of 1798 a long, one story structure was erected. It had a swinging partition that enabled it to be used for a school during the week and a church on the Sabbath. A large fireplace dominated the south wall. Two entrances were made, with the east entrance used solely for the school and the west entrance used for the church. Thus, Holland Patent's first church was also its first school.
- E. Clark
In the summer of 1822 a new church was erected in the center of the Commons where it remained until 1874. This church was thirty-seven feet with steeple, side aisles, and a four-foot center aisle. Forty-one subscriptions were pledged totaling One Thousand Six Hundred Dollars, with two exceptions that were paid in work, materials, grain and produce.
The Presbyterian Society was not always purely Presbyterian. In 1812 a Congregational Church was formed at the Patent and succeeding pastors preached for both the Presbyterians and the Congregationalists. On January 1, 1821, the two religions united and assumed the name of "The Church of Christ in Holland patent." The Society remained until 1841, when the church once again became solely Presbyterian.
The present stone church was erected in the summer of 1843 and dedicated on February 15, 1844. Its Greek Revival style, constructed of native limestone, became the final structure of the Presbyterian Society on the Commons. Pew rent was also initiated in 1844 consisting of twenty dollars for the center pews on each side of the pulpit and those in the first five rows. The last three rows beginning at the rear and progressing towards the front were priced at two, three and five dollars respectively.
For a short period of time the Presbyterian Church encompassed the surrounding community. In 1938 the church assumed pastoral oversight of the Presbyterian congregation in Remsen. The union of these two churches was known as the "Holland Patent-Remsen Larger Parish." The union ended in 1956, when Utica Presbytery once more assumed pastoral oversight of the Remsen Church.
In 1949, the Presbyterians acquired the former Baptist Church, built in 1844, for the sum of One Dollar. Thus were the "Twin Churches" born. The two buildings remained alike and apart for fifteen years-until 1965-when crowded conditions warranted connecting them with additional classrooms.
This brief accounting of the history of our buildings and significant dates omit much interesting material. However, the past history of this society is but a legacy of trust to those who follow. The future of the church lies in those members who - having learned from the lives of their forebears-strengthen and continue the precepts of her stewardship. Form the Post Revolutionary period to the Nuclear Age, the First United Presbyterian Church in Holland Patent has been a stabilizing and a prophetic influence in the lives of its people. With the Grace of Providence it will continue long into the future.