In the late 1860’s, Catholic families began coming to the Stamford area in northern Delaware County, New York. Some came because of the arrival of the railroad and others because of the advent of the summer boarding business in the region. The need for a Catholic Church soon became apparent, and in 1869 the site for a church was purchased by Rev. Thomas Riley from Cobleskill.
The church was built in 1870 in the southwest section of the village known as “Brooklyn” at the time, under the direction of Rt. Rev. J.J. Conroy, Bishop of Albany. Ground was broken in May and the church was dedicated on October 25 by Bishop Conroy, who was assisted by Rev. T.W. Riley.
The church was 34’ wide x 70’ long and cost $4000 to build. It was a mission of St. Mary’s Parish in Hunter, New York for 20 years, and Mass was celebrated once a month. Visiting priests during those years included Rev. Thomas Riley, Rev. Aloysius Murphy, Rev. Simon J. Canane, Rev. P.H. Delehanty and Rev. Hugh O’Neill.
The first trustees of the church were Bishop Conroy, Fr. Reilly, Chas. T. Smith, Matthew B. Govern, John Delaney, James Kaley and J. M. Delaney. The first windows placed in the church were donated by Margaret Martin Govern, John Delaney, James Kaley, J. and M. Delaney, in memory of their father and brother, and Chas. Smith, in memory of his parents.
In 1891 a Rectory was built adjacent to the church and the first resident pastor, Rev. Patrick Livingston, was appointed. In 1892, the church purchased a new organ and electric lights were installed, making it the first church in the area to have electric lights.
Sacred Heart was redecorated in July 1907 as reported by “The Stamford Mirror Recorder”:
“The Catholic citizens of Stamford can feel proud of their Sacred Heart Church in Stamford and the improvements which have lately been made to the interior of the church are certainly fine. New windows are now being made in the old country in Austria and it will be sometime yet before they will reach here and be placed in position. Mr. E.D. Champlin and son took the contract to paint and decorate the interior of Sacred Heart Church and they were able to finish the work Friday, promptly on time. The Champlins were assisted in the decorative work by Mr. W.F. Thompson of Kingston. On Friday morning, fourteen pieces of fine statuary, depicting the chief events in the entombment of Christ arrived and these were prepared and placed in the church in their proper places in the church by the Messrs. Champlins on Saturday. The interior decorations of the church are very chaste and beautiful. Rev. Slattery, pastor of Sacred Heart, is well pleased with the decorative work. Visitors to the church will find a great improvement to the interior of the edifice and a change that is decidedly pleasing.” (July 10, 1907)
Later that year, “The Stamford Mirror Recorder” reported on the recognition given to all who donated items for the beautification of the church:
At the Church of the Sacred Heart last Sunday, a bronze tablet was unveiled with appropriate ceremonies. The inscription on the tablet is as follows: D.O.M. This tablet is erected to record the following:
Statues: The Blessed Virgin, E.L.Kelly in memory of his parents; St. Joseph, E.F. Govern: St. Patrick, T.J. O’Brien in memory of his parents; St. Anthony, G.J. Molloy in memory of his Father.
Stations of the Cross: 1. M.H. Donovan, in memory of his parents; 2. Clara Baab, in memory of her husband George W.; 3. Mary Lee, in memory of her parents and Mary McNamee Lee; 4. Emma Dux, in memory of her daughter, Magdalen; 5. Thomas Murphy in memory of his wife, Agnes; 6, 8 and 10, donated by Elizabeth Callahan Young; 7. In memory of Hugh O’Neill, sometime pastor of this church; 9. Peter Meeghan Sr. and wife; 11. Louis S. McMahon, in memory of his mother; 12. Anna Stark Langler; 13. Jane Gray and Dorothy Bergh, in memory of their parents; 14. Elizabeth Callahan Young, in memory of her Father.
Other windows, in memory of Thomas Murphy Sr., James Nolan, Phillip and Ann Dooley A.D. 1907. (Dec. 11, 1907)
In 1910 Sacred Heart purchased 5 acres of land from the Johnson Hamilton estate for a cemetery at the southern end of town. Also in 1910, a beautiful marble baptismal font was presented to Father Walsh, the present pastor at the time, by Mrs. Andrew Kuhn of Brooklyn. A sanctuary lamp was gifted to the church by Adelaide M. Thomas, B. and John M. Jones of NYC, in memory of Morgan and Annie Jones. As was reported in “The Stamford Mirror Recorder”, Father Walsh said:
These gifts speak volumes for the generosity and piety of the donors, while they aid greatly to the adornment of the sanctuary. During the long watches of the day and night, the lamp will burn brightly and faithfully before the Blessed Sacrament. Its gleaming will tell of the presence of the Redeemer of souls made white by the regenerating waters poured over them in the baptismal font. Their gifts are worthy of a place in the Holy of Holies. (August 17, 1910)
In 1913 a concrete retaining wall, steps and entrance were added to the front of the church. During 1916, two electric crosses were added to the spires. Additions were added to the church in 1917 and 1919 and a number of priests came and went.
In 1945, the rectory burned and was razed. The house across the street was acquired from the Govern family and became the new rectory. It remains as such today. In 1965 a garage was built and a side porch was enclosed. The present parish hall was also built by the Govern family and named The Josephine Govern Hall.
Little was recorded over the next 20 years. 1958 saw the formation of a branch of the Holy Name Society and in 1960, an Altar Rosary Society was formed. A severe windstorm in February of 1965 damaged the failing church structure in February 1965, and the building was declared unsafe because of cracked timbers in the ceiling. Up to that day, Sacred Heart Church had flourished and filled the spiritual needs of the Catholic faithful for 95 years.