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Two Saints Church in downtown Rochester now open for public events

Rochester's oldest continuously occupied public building will now be a public rental space for weddings, concerts and other events.

The Episcopal Church of St. Luke & St. Simon Cyrene -- known by many as “Two Saints Church” -- has been on South Fitzhugh Street in Rochester since the early 1800s when the Erie Canal used to flow right by it.

John Burrs is the deacon of this church; he has worked in this building for almost 30 years. During a tour of the space, he said he and his second wife were married here, and they were sold on the balcony seating. He said they’re excited to see the space open up for more use.

"At one time, one of our parishioners had a birthday party for their great-granddaughter,” Burrs said. “And they had a bouncy castle in here. So we're trying to make as much use of the space as we can."

A nonprofit organization has been formed to oversee a capital campaign to maintain the space, and a call is out for board members and volunteers. First on the list of upkeep is replacing the roof.

The dream, supporters said, is to keep the building a vibrant center of activity in the city for another 200 years.

Larry Steffler, the director of the Friends of Historic Two Saints, said he actually moved to Rochester because of the building.

“My husband is the minister here, and he accepted a job here,” Steffler said. “And I came here and fell in love with the building. And the more I read about the history, the more I fell in love with it. But I realized that a lot of people in town didn’t even know this church existed."

He said he wants to see the church continue to grow alongside downtown Rochester’s revitalization.

"You know they’re talking about downtown Rochester rising, everything’s getting together, we can’t let this church fall,” he said. “Like with a lot of churches the congregations are getting smaller, they’re getting older, and they really don’t have the resources to keep the building up."