Then and Now. Pekin, New York

Then: Traveling East on Upper Mountain Road: Hope United Methodist Church.


The stones used to build this church–known for many years as Pekin United Methodist Church–were cut from the Niagara escarpment, which runs through my family farm. Knowing this only makes me want to know more.

How long did it take to gather stone from the hillside? Who were the workers? Were they church members or stone masons?  How many of them were my ancestors? Did they sit at the hill’s edge and take in the view when they paused from work?  What thoughts about the future of their village and church community crossed their minds as they carried stone after stone up the hill into the village?

What do then and now pictures evoke for you?


Now: Traveling East on Upper Mountain Road: Hope United Methodist Church.

8 thoughts on “Then and Now. Pekin, New York

  1. I enjoyed that same view while biking around my old high school stomping grounds a few months ago. Amazing that you posted this.

    I teach a service learning course at Alfred University in which our first and second class focuses on developing a sense of place within the village of Alfred, since most of our students live their four years on our campus and rarely venture out. We ask them to take a walking tour, accompanied by brochures and photographs of Alfred-that-was, and to research the history of either their own off-campus house/apartment or another historic space in Alfred. It’s amazing how that alone deepens their connection with our community, and opens their eyes to the subcultures that exist all around them.


    • Kathy,

      What a fantastic class to teach! What a privilege. I would love to take that class with you! At one of our local city colleges, I was hired to teach weekend workshops. I was lucky enough to be given free rein and teach whatever I wanted in writing. I chose the interconnection between place and voice in writing – how where we are from or places to which we connect influence our voice in writing. To “[open] their eyes to the subcultures that exist all around them…”– we so often over look this as a society. Funny how we must consciously work at it, and yet when we do, our observer bias kicks in and we change how we look at things. This is one of my goals with my writing. It’s changed how I look at things, and I hope it does that for others as well. Good to hear from you! -R


  2. In the late 70’s our family visited Jerome, a ghost town with tumbleweeds literally rolling down the middle of the dirt main street. The town was eerily quiet as we listened to the wind blow through the street, picking up dust and settling it back down a few feet away. It was like stepping into a totally different world.
    Fast forward several years later when I drove my friend to Jerome, thinking I was taking her to an old west town. To my surprise, the town was vibrant with tourists, shops and restaurants. I was conflicted with the feelings of losing a true ghost town but also filled with my wonderment of how artists had changed and brought life back into a lost town.


    • My parents traveled from this tiny village (Pekin) in New York to Jerome in the 60’s. They describe pretty much what you saw on your first visit. Amazing how things can change. Or not.


  3. Usually I notice that the streets are no longer dirt, gravel, or cobblestones. They are paved, for better or worse….I like to look at the buildings to see if they’re still there, and if they are, they’ve usually had a facelift.


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