During its first century, St. Paul’s Church supported three chapels in the city of Albany. They were all located in areas of the city that were underserved by other churches, and they were all “free,” meaning that they were supported by pledges, rather than by the sale and rental of pews, as was the case at St. Paul’s until 1927.
Today’s post concerns the last of these, St. Mark’s Chapel, which existed for five years, from 1909 until 1913. St. Marks was a project of St. Paul’s Chapter of the Brotherhood of St. Andrew (“For the spread of Christ’s Kingdom Among Men”), which was chartered November 17, 1891. The Brotherhood was a small organization (rarely more than a dozen men), headed by the rector and with membership drawn from prominent parishioners.
The Brotherhood’s report in St. Paul’s Year Book for 1908 describes the background of this effort, and the initial plans for its development under the heading “The Delaware Avenue Chapel.”
Under the auspices of the Brotherhood of Saint Andrew of Saint Paul’s Parish, a chapel will be established in the Delaware avenue section of the city sometime during the month of December. This work will be in line with similar efforts made by the Parish in past years. Many of the parishioners will remember Saint Paul’s Free Chapel, on lower Madison avenue, which was located in a fire engine house purchased from the city in 1867, and the night school which was maintained to give instruction in the “three R’s” of elementary education. This chapel was maintained until 1884 when it was sold. Then the “Pine Hills” section of the city began to be built up and a Sunday School was established to meet the needs of that section. Out of this came a reading room on Ontario street and finally the building of the present Saint Andrew’s Church, which became an independent Parish in 1899.
The up-building of the Delaware avenue section offers the same opportunities as did Pine Hills, and the Brotherhood of Saint Andrew has long felt that something ought to be done to provide a Sunday School for the children, and this will be their first work, and just as soon as it is feasible services will be inaugurated. The history of the Parish guarantees the interest of Saint Paul’s in this work. “To help others is to help ourselves.”
St. Mark’s was formally opened in January 1909 by the Rt. Rev. Richard H. Nelson, D.D., Bishop Coadjutor of Albany. The building, a remodeled storehouse, was located on what is now called Oneida Terrace, just off of Morton Street and only a few blocks from Delaware Avenue. The mission seems to have been a success from the beginning. One month after opening, plans were made to provide additional seating. And a year later, with a Sunday School class of twenty to twenty-five and attendance of forty to fifty at the services conducted by St. Paul’s curate Arthur H. Beaty, there was discussion of moving to a larger building.
By the 1912 Year Book, the Brotherhood was able to report movement toward construction of a church building for the Mission:
The work of the Brotherhood during the past six months has been almost exclusively given to the work at St. Mark’s Chapel. About seventeen hundred dollars have been given or pledge for paying for two lots on Delaware avenue as a site for a new chapel, and we expect to raise the balance, one thousand dollars during the winter.
Included with this report are two architectural renderings for the new building, one of the crypt,
and one an elevation view of the church itself.
But the Chapel never resumed after its summer break in 1913. The lease on the former storehouse could not be extended, and, while the funds for purchase of the Delaware Avenue lots were in hand, the situation had changed. We read in the 1913 Year Book:
The school year closed May 26, 1913, with the expectation that when work was resumed in the fall, it would be in a chapel building of our own. Owing to the possibility of too many Churches being erected in the Delaware avenue section of the city and resulting in ‘religious competition,’ the erection of a building for St. Mark’s has been deferred, and the school for the Chapel is for the present merged with the Church School.
This entry marks the end of an important experiment in community outreach for St. Paul’s. Year Books over the next dozen years continue to show balances in the St. Mark’s Chapel Account, but with no indication of plans to proceed with the project. It is possible that St. Paul’s Church decided that the Trinity Institute (begun in 1912 in Albany’s South End, with Bishop Doane’s blessing and financial support from all the diocese’s congregations) would be a more effective vehicle for social programs.