By Kathleen Sullivan
Originally part of the Ellenville parish, responsibility for maintaining a Hurleyville mission was transferred in 1874 to St. Peter’s Church in Monticello. Some records indicate that St. Mary’s was built around 1875. However, according to deeds recorded at the Sullivan County Clerk’s office, the property was conveyed from the Kile family to St. Peter’s Church in Monticello in 1906.
Records from the Sullivan County Historical Society and the Archdiocese of New York verify that St. Mary’s was the first mission church of St. Peter’s Church in Monticello.
Workers and guests from the Columbia Hotel joined area residents in worshipping at St. Mary’s. Boxing champions training and fighting in Sullivan County…including Jimmy Braddock, Floyd Patterson, Rocky Marciano and Sonny Liston…were parishioners during their stays in the Catskills.
The church was closed in 1978, several years after the Columbia Hotel burned down. The Archdiocese sold the church in 1984 and it was privately owned until 1993 when it was acquired by Sullivan County.
The building was primarily used for storage by the Sullivan County Historical Society until 2009.
After hearing of the possibility of the church being demolished, the Hurleyville Complex Committee was formed in 2006 to discuss the future use of the building. Committee members included folks from Hurleyville-Sullivan First, the Sullivan County Historical Society, Legislator Jodi Goodman and County officials. The committee was awarded a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts to hire an architect specializing in historic preservation to provide an assessment of the condition of the building.
The architect reported that the building was in generally sound condition and a suitable candidate for restoration.
Repairs began at the church in 2007. The repairs stabilized the building and stopped water entry from the steeple. The repairs were funded by grants awarded to Hurleyville-Sullivan First and the Sullivan County Historical Society.
Sullivan County transferred ownership of the building to Hurleyville-Sullivan First in 2009. A community center is planned for the building.
Since 2009 Hurleyville-Sullivan First has been awarded grants that were used to install new wooden front doors, a driveway and a new roof. The most recent project was painting the exterior.
There are more projects to be completed before the St. Mary’s Community Center becomes a reality. Heating and bathrooms must be installed. The building must be hooked up to the water and sewer system. The electric must be connected.
The building is especially important to long-time residents of Hurleyville who have fond memories of weddings, bazaars and notable visitors.
The historical significance of the building was displayed by the efforts of the community to save the building.
St. Mary’s and the Hurleyville United Methodist Church flank the Sullivan County Museum like book-ends. “The group of buildings would look like a bird with one wing if the church was demolished,” said one Hurleyville resident.
St. Mary’s is one of Hurleyville’s many extraordinary treasures.
Visit www.hurleyvilleny.com to find more treasures in Hurleyville.