Burned Over: on the search for some of Rochester’s most sacred Christian sites

Burned Over: on the search for some of Rochester’s most sacred Christian sites

David Kramer on top of Cobb’s Hill (10/18/15) [Photo: Eric Kemperman from On the 22nd of October, 1844 on top of Cobb’s Hill]

Throughout this year, George Payne has written about and photographed the progress of the Lower Fall Foundation towards making the Lower Falls Park and Gorge a World Heritage Site, most recently in Frederick Douglass in Rochester: a gallery of images and words.

Today, George, a graduate of St. John Fisher College and Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, expands on his wide range of interests with a stunning photo montage of some of Rochester’s most sacred Christian sites.

About a year ago in On the 22nd of October, 1844 on top of Cobb’s Hill, Eric Kemperman and I retraced the steps up and down Cobb’s Hill taken by followers of the charismatic preacher Joseph Miller who believed “the Day of Wrath” had come and the literal Second Coming of Christ was at hand.

George captures some of the Christian history of Rochester from the period of the burned-over district to today.

See also Remembering the Jewish past of Joseph Avenue

Burned Over: on the search for some of Rochester’s most sacred Christian sites  (all photos by George)

Rochester was once at the center of the burned-over district. This refers to the western and central regions of New York in the early 19th century, where religious revivals and the formation of new religious movements of the Second Great Awakening took place.

From the beginning of Rochester’s incorporation as a city in 1837, it has been dominated by Christianity. The pictures below attempt to capture the beauty, power, reverence, social unity,  pomp, sobriety, dignity, humanitarianism, magic, materialism, mysticism, lightheartedness, and perhaps sublimity of this religious influence.


All Faith and Deliverance Church on Brewer St


Earth Vigil outside St. Luke and St. Cyrene


Mt. Hope Cemetery

You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself. Swami Vivekananda


Immaculate Conception/ St. Bridget’s Church in Corn Hill


St. John Fisher College


St. John Fisher


St. Boniface Church

Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life.


Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School on 1100 South Goodman Street. A beacon on the hill for social justice.


Mt. Hope Cemetery. Susan B. Anthony was a devout Quaker.

It is wonderful how much time good people spend fighting the devil. If they would only expend the same amount of energy loving their fellow men, the devil would die in his own tracks of ennui. Helen Keller


About First Universalist Church


Mt. Hope Cemetery


Maplewood YMCA by Claude Bragdon


Clara Barton’s Church

There is nothing evil save that which perverts the mind and shackles the conscience. Saint Ambrose


Memorial AME on Clarissa Street. Once a site of the Underground Railroad


Immanuel Baptist Temple by the Genesee Riverway Trail. Learn more about this congregation at Immanuel Baptist Church

 Immanuel Baptist Church


The goddess ISIS at Strasenburgh Planetarium

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.
Khalil Gibran

Old Downtown Salvation Army Building

Religion kept some of my relatives alive, because it was all they had. If they hadn’t had some hope of heaven, some companionship in Jesus, they probably would have committed suicide, their lives were so hellish.
Octavia Butler

Church on Plymouth Street in the Plymouth Exchange Neighborhood

Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays.
Soren Kierkegaard

Episcopal Church of St. Luke and St.Simon Cyrene




Mt. Hope Cemetery

I believe in a religion that believes in freedom. Any time I have to accept a religion that won’t let me fight a battle for my people, I say to hell with that religion. Malcolm X


King’s Landing Pioneer’s Cemetery

Learn More About King’s Landing


Our Father…


On the 22nd of October, 1844 on top of Cobb’s Hill

Remembering the Jewish past of Joseph Avenue


About The Author


Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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