St. George’s Church, Mohegan Lake, NY

The family of prominent painter, muralist, author, and stained glass designer John LaFarge is associated with this formerly abandoned church (Bing aerial), located in northern Westchester County. John LaFarge’s widowed mother, Louisa Binese LaFarge, moved into a nearby Swiss chalet-style house in 1870 after her marriage to local businessman Thomas Jones. John LaFarge was a frequent guest there and considered taking up residence as well but his wife declined; she preferred Newport to rural northern Westchester County.

After Louisa’s death in 1897 her daughters Marie and Aimee assumed ownership of the house. Aimee’s husband George Lewis Heins died in 1907 and in his memory Aimee hired the New York City firm of Hewitt & Bottomley to design the stone Norman-style chapel, which was built in 1911-12 across the street from her house. George Heins and nephew Christopher Lafarge were partners in the firm Heins and LaFarge and were responsible for the designs of for City Hall Station (New York City), New York Zoological Park (Bronx Zoo), and the Roman Catholic Chapel at West Point, among other notable commissions. John LaFarge designed three of the stained glass windows at St. George’s Church himself, which was finished two years after he died. Those windows have since been replaced.

St. George’s Church was last used for services in 1983 and then-owner Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish sold the church amid plans to build a new place of worship. The country chapel sat vacant until a developer renovated it in the early 2000s. The new owner announced plans in 2001 for an upscale restaurant, but was rejected in 2005 as local officials claimed there was not enough room for 50 parking spaces required by zoning laws, as well as the proximity to wetlands, despite the existence of adjacent commercial space.

On May 10, 2005, I happened to meet the developer, a man named Michael Palmietto. I was taking some photos from the road when a pickup truck came around the corner from the back of the church. The man driving the truck got out and inquired of my interest in the building. Eager to show off his recently completed interior renovations, Mr. Palmietto invited me inside for a peek. I took some hand-held photos with my first generation digital point-and-shoot camera, hoping to return another day with more time for properly composed and exposed photographs. I never followed up, but these photographs will suffice for the historical record.

Later in 2005, Palmietto sold the church to Tom DeChiaro. DeChiaro also proposed opening a business in the old stone church, and his plan stirred debate in the political arena and controversy among the town’s landmarks preservation board. Recently, I learned that DeChiaro has prevailed and the formerly abandoned St. George’s Church is now open for business as the Winery at St. George.

With Information From The Yorktown Historical Society:
Article about Endangered Buildings
Article about the LaFarge Family

And this last photograph was taken April 23, 2011. The signs seems to have sprung from the political action that kept the winery from opening up for so long.

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11 Responses to St. George’s Church, Mohegan Lake, NY

  1. Richard Cunningham says:

    What a place!

  2. Rebecca Elise says:

    This is a great post. I have seen this church since the early 80s, if it is the one I am thinking of, right off Route 6, off the Taconic. Of course I used to wonder about it, since it looked abandoned (and was!).

  3. john w says:

    I actually attended cghurch here in the late 50’s until 1965. Didn’t realize how small the church actually was. It looks great !

  4. Linda pallo says:

    My husband and I got married in this church in 1973. My daughter is getting married at SEAS on May 17,2014. Would it be okay if we took pictures with her in from of the winery on that day? It has a lot of good memories. She made her first Holy Communion in that building. It would be a very special moment !!!
    Thank you
    Linda Elbers Pallo

  5. Linda Pallo says:

    I had emailed you a few months ago about my daughter getting married at St Elizabeth Ann Seton church. We wanted to stop at your winery to get pictures in front of it as that is where I got married and my daughter made her first communion. The wedding is May 16th. The plan is to stop there at 4:30pm to get pictures in front of the winery. I hope this is okay. That place has very special memories. Looking forward in hearing from you.
    Thank you
    Linda Pallo
    352-650-99762.

  6. Juan Guillermo Aguila Arocha says:

    Hello

    I’m writing to St George’s Church, but I’m not sure if you are the right people to ask for help, so I’m sorry if I bother you. The fact is I am from Cuba and currently live in Temecula, California; and I’m trying to locate a close friend from the University back in Cuba.
    His name is Cesar Yoel Perez Olivero. He graduated from Theology in Argentine, and lived there a few years; but he moved to New York and has been living there for several years already. I searched on the Internet and found out he lives in Mohegan Lake, New York. His wife’s name is Gretha or Grethel, and they’re both from Cuba too. I believe Cesar became a pastor, that’s why I’m writing you. Can you help me to locate him? I’d really appreciate if you could.
    God bless you.
    Juan Guillermo Aguila Arocha.

  7. Mike Woods says:

    I used to go to Mass there, probably from 1961 to 1967 or so. When they opened Seaton we went from a beautiful chapel to a gym! What I rather admired was that the LaFarge chapel was a mission church, with no resident clergy. There was a seminary a couple of miles away, and visiting fathers would come down to say Mass and give the sermon. And they were professors of Theology! I heard some good talks. At Seaton, it was only “Stop abortion” and “Give us more money.”

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