This long-vacant building once had a high arched roof. Passing at 45 miles per hour, I'd always assumed that it was the CAUGHNAWAGA CHURCH commemorated on a historic marker a few hundred feet up NY 5 at the eastern outskirts of Fonda. For years I thought about photographing the summer sun playing on the powdery orange brick walls against the deep greens and blacks of the woods. But of course I never made time to take it.

Last July 4th, while racing an afternoon thunderstorm down Route 5, I noticed two huge trees lying across the roof from the rear. I didn't have film in my camera, and I wasn't back in the Mohawk Valley until Labor Day. By then, the building was topless and you could see the roof, rafters, and ceiling stacked like a club sandwich in the left front window.

Later I learned that the building was the original home of Saint Cecilia's Roman Catholic Church, which eventually moved to a larger building near the center of town. Above its front door was a painted-over sign for an American Legion Post, which I'm told was its last occupant. But the building's facade also contained a marker stone for the Fonda Grange. Perhaps the Patrons Of Husbandry actually erected it in the dismal depression years after the panic of 1873, as farmers united to battle both the railroads and the elements. If so, maybe it 's fitting that Mother Nature has won this particular battle.

UPDATE: The ruins of Old Saint Cecilia's were taken down to their foundation sometime before July 4th of 2004.