St. Luke’s Church

St. Luke’s Church was originally organized in 1817 but did not build the structure we see today was not constructed until 1824. The building, at 17 South Fitzhugh Street, is actually Rochester’s oldest remaining public building.

Officially titled St. Luke’s Church of Genesee Falls, the structure was built on land that had been donated to the first denomination to claim it. St. Luke’s happened to be the one to acquire Lot #85 on Fitzhugh and built their first structure, a frame style one, in 1820. This structure was 38 feet by 46 feet, had 40 pews inside and cost the church $1,260 to build plus $200 for the bell tower. By 1823, the congregation had outgrown this structure and it was decided a larger, stone building would be erected in its place. The frame structure was moved to the back of the lot for use during construction and remained there as a Sunday school classroom until 1832.

New York architect Josiah R. Brady designed the Gothic Revival building, shown below. The new church was designed to be 53 feet by 73 feet with a 90-foot tower standing 16 feet square, projecting five feet beyond the main structure and topped by eight pinnacles. Originally it was to have cost $9,000 but rose to $10,400 by completion.

St. Luke's Church.

The edifice contains Grimsby sandstone, quarried from below the Lower Falls of the Genesee River in Rochester. The front of the entire structure and corners of the tower contain hewn gray stone brought in from Auburn, New York. The body, along with the window frames and doors, are made with red freestone.

St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

The interior boasts painted imitation light blue variegated marble with intersecting vaulted arches and stucco for the ceiling. There were 66 pews on the ground floor and 26 in the gallery. The organ, built by Hall & Erben of New York, cost $1,300 (more than the entire cost of the first building)!

Interior, St. Luke's Church.


Altar at St. Luke's Church.

The cornerstone for this magnificent structure was laid on May 11, 1824 and the church opened for worship on September 4, 1825. In July of 1827, an order was placed for a bell weighing 2,000 pounds that would go in the tower.








Antice, Rev. Henry. Centennial Annals: St. Luke’s Church Rochester, NY 1817-1917. Scranton, Wetmore, & Co., Rochester, NY, 1917.

Grasso, Thomas X. Rochester History, "Geology and Industrial History of the Rochester Gorge Part One, Vol. LIV, No. 4, Fall 1992.

Jeffrey Smit, Virginia. Rochester History, "Reminiscences of the Third Ward," Vol. VIII, No. 2, April 1946.

McNamara, Robert F. Rochester History, "Charles Carrol of Bellvue Co-Founder of Rochester." Vol. XLII, No. 4, October 1980.

McKelvey, Blake. Rochester History, "The Physical Growth of Rochester," Vol. XIII, No. 4, October 1951.

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