Park Central Church, opposite Fayette Firefighters Memorial Park, was built in 1872. Its design is the work of famed Syracuse architect, Archimedes Russell. The Henninger Memorial organ, installed in 1967, is one of the finest instruments of its kind in Central New York.
Syracuse’s Park Central Presbyterian Church was first organized in 1846 and was located on the opposite side of Fayette Park on State Street (then known as Mulberry Street). In 1899, the existing Park Central church was the cause of much controversy and headline-grabbing news when it declared that ladies must remove their hats during the sermon to enable all members of the congregation to see the pastor.
A newspaper article about the women of the Park Central Church removing their hats for services
The January 20, 1899 headline read “Hats Off at Park Church – 50 Women Have Agreed to Innovation – Minister in Site Sunday.” The article stated that “the man who has dodged from one side to the other behind a picture hat, or craned his neck in vain to get a glimpse of the minister above a towering mass of feathers, velvet and lace may now possess his soul in patience. He may cease from these gymnastics and give his undivided attention to the sermon and his spiritual needs. The women of Park Church have heroically decided to sacrifice their bonnets to his comfort. Here-after, hats are to be removed during the sermon.”
Examples of lady’s hats of the time period
Where to put one’s hat, once it was removed, was a major concern for the ladies. But, the more serious problem was: how could a woman replace the hat “back on her head straight without a mirror of any kind?” The article stated that “there was no solution for that except for each to take her chances.”