BINGHAMTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Lovers of history, art and architecture, or just the curious, will have the chance to tour some spectacular houses of worship this weekend.

The Sacred Sites Open House event takes place Sunday at 20 churches, a synagogue and a mosque in Greater Binghamton.

This is the 11th year that the Preservation Association of the Southern Tier, or PAST, has sponsored local participation in the statewide event.

Sacred Sites Committee Chairperson Ron Borgna says it’s a great way to see inside churches you’ve often driven by.

“You can go at your own pace, you can do as many as you want, stay as long as you want. There’s no tickets, no reservations. It’s a free event,” he said.

The Dormition of the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church, locally referred to as Saint Mary’s, is on Baxter Street in Binghamton’s First Ward.

It was built by Eastern European immigrants in 1915 and includes a number of features common among Eastern Orthodox Christianity, including its gold-toned domes, cyrillic lettering and giant oak iconostasis or wall of images.

In the 1950’s and 60’s, it underwent a major expansion with additions on the sides that tripled its size.

At that time, iconographers produced large canvas murals of saints that were adhered to the walls.

Father Ilya Gotlinsky has been the priest at Dormition of the Virgin Mary for almost 23 years.
He says the artwork inside is a major draw.

“Many of the American churches are a little bit more sober than ours. That intrigues people. Many people have attended weddings in our church hall but they’ve never actually been inside the church. That curiosity brings them in and then they finally see what they have missed for al these years,” he says.

Gotlinksy says the artwork on the ceiling was inspired by Saint Volodymyr’s Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine.

Open house times vary by church but all occur within the 11 to 4 window.

You can see a full list of locations and their schedules at