Monthly Archives: May 2015

October 1964 — Demolition of the Lancaster Street Building, After and Before

Did you see Chris Churchill’s excellent article “Empire State Plaza isn’t worth celebrating” in the Sunday, May 24, 2015 issue of the Times-Union? One of the illustrations is a photograph taken on October 19, 1964, showing the Jay Street facade of St. Paul’s Lancaster Street building, including the chancel and parish hall, just as demolition began. This is an image we’ve never seen, and we’d like to thank Chris for providing a high-definition copy for our records.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church is demolished to make way the South Mall Oct. 19, 1964, in Albany, N.Y. Historic buildings and streets 1960s, Empire State Plaza. (Times Union archive)

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is demolished to make way the South Mall Oct. 19, 1964, in Albany, N.Y. Historic buildings and streets 1960s, Empire State Plaza. (Times Union archive)

For comparison, our archives has two color slides taken just before the Times-Union image. The first, a closeup of the parish hall, was taken in spring 1964, while the building was still in use.

Jay Street Facade May 1964

Jay Street Facade May 1964

The other shows the buildings immediately before demolition began. Notice that the church and parish hall appear to have been the last structures standing in this part of the South Mall “catchment area”.

St. Paul's Jay Street Facade October 1964

St. Paul’s Jay Street Facade October 1964

Finally, here is another “after” photograph from our archives. This November 1964 slide shows the Lancaster Street facade after demolition. The frame of the nave rose window can be seen leaning against the rubble.

Lancaster Street facade after demolition

St. Paul’s Lancaster Street facade immediately after demolition in October 1964

Early Spring 1965 — Continued Construction Progress on Hackett Boulevard

Here is another set of unlabeled slides from the St. Paul’s archives, with nice views of the progress of construction. The slides were processed in April 1965, but there are no leaves on the trees and there may be a touch of snow on the nave roof, so the photographs may have bee taken a bit earlier.

First a good shot of most of the site, though only a bit of the chapel shows on the left side. This was taken from what is now the parking lot of Albany Medical Center’s South Clinical Campus, then Child’s Hospital. Was this still open land at that time? It seems not to have been paved.

Hackett Blvd April 1965, showing entire construction site

Hackett Blvd April 1965, showing entire construction site

Next, two dramatic shots of the west end of the nave, almost complete.

Hackett Blvd April 1965, exterior west end of nave

Hackett Blvd April 1965, exterior west end of nave

Hackett Blvd April 1965, exterior west end of nave

Hackett Blvd April 1965, exterior west end of nave

And finally, more detail of the nave construction, with all of the temporary supports still in place.

Hackett Blvd April 1965, construction of nave

Hackett Blvd April 1965, construction of nave

April 1860 — George William Warren Resigns as Organist and Choirmaster

Last month marked the 165th anniversary of George William Warren’s resignation as St. Paul’s organist and choirmaster. Well-known as an organist and composer in the nineteenth century and still remembered today as the composer of “National Hymn” (the tune to which “God of Our Father’s is usually sung), Warren was certainly the most illustrious of St. Paul’s organists and choirmasters until the arrival of T. Frederick H. Candlyn in 1915.

George William Warren

George William Warren

As you can see from his letter of resignation below, Warren served at St. Paul’s for a little less than thirteen years in the period between 1843 (when he was only fifteen years old) and 1860, with his final engagement at St. Paul’s lasting from August 1857 until August 1, 1860. Warren does not mention the dates of his earlier engagements, but the general picture is very clear from his own words: three-quarters of his professional life in Albany were spent at St. Paul’s.

Why, then, does The Hymnal Companion: Service Music and Biographies (Raymond F. Glover, ed.  Church Hymnal Corporation, 1994, page 651)  say that “at the age of eighteen Warren became organist of St. Peter’s, Albany, where he served from 1846 to 1858, then for two years at St. Paul’s, Albany.”? In future posts, I will explain the likely origin of this error, and show the correct chronology from contemporary records.

George William Warren’s letter of resignation as organist and musical director of St. Paul’s Church, Albany, is transcribed in St. Paul’s Vestry minutes, volume 3, dated 4 May 1860:

To the Rector, Warden and Vestrymen of St. Paul’s Church

Gentlemen:
About two weeks since, I was waited upon by a Committee from the Vestry of the Church of the Holy Trinity Brooklyn, N.Y. asking upon what terms I would remove my residence to that City, and take charge of the Music of their Church.  I was invited to visit them, inspect the Organ, and present my contract to the Vestry at their meeting of last Thursday. All this I did, and as my terms in every particular were instantly and unanimously accepted, I must necessarily beg leave to submit my resignation as Organist & Musical Director of St. Paul’s Church, to take effect the first of August ensuing, which time terminates the third year of my present engagement with you.

It has been my privilege to be a Church Organist in this, the City of my birth, seventeen years; and the best part of that time (nearly thirteen years) has been devoted to the musical interests of St. Paul’s. It has always been my willing duty to try to please you; if I have not always succeeded, the cause has been something else than lack of desire on my part.

From my heart I thank you, for the confidence and kindness I have always received from you, and now that I am soon to remove to another City to leave old and tried friends, and make every honest effort to win new ones, I am most anxious to carry with me the esteem of all those with whom I have been connected. May I not hope for a continuance of your friendship, and good wishes?

I am most respectfully
Your friend

George William Warren
Albany, April 24, 1860