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

Photography by George Cassidy Payne


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
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…

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