125 years ago today, on the morning of June 14, 1897, St. Paul’s rector broke ground for St. Paul’s Chapel of St. Andrew on the corner of Western Avenue and Main Street. Our brothers and sisters at St. Andrew’s Church, the direct descendant of that chapel, will be celebrating that event, as well as the anniversary of the building’s consecration in November this year. I wanted to take the occasion to tell something of the back story, telling how St. Andrew’s came to be.
The story begins 6 years earlier in 1891, when St. Paul’s curate, Freeborn G. Jewett, proposed organizing a chapel for St. Paul’s in Albany’s Pine Hills neighborhood. The first meetings took place in July 1892 in rooms belonging to the West End Savings and Loan Association on the south side of Madison Avenue just west of Ontario Street. St. Paul’s chapter of the Brotherhood of Saint Andrew was tasked with supporting the new chapel, which thus took their name. Later that year, in November 1892, the chapel moved to a former school building on Ontario Street, near the corner of Hamilton Street. By early 1893, both Morning Prayer and Communion were regularly celebrated.
The chapel building on Ontario Street was soon a busy place, with a Sunday School, a reading room, a room for boys’ activities and a sewing room. St. Andrew’s Chapel also participated with aid organizations to distribute food to the needy in the area. At this point, Jewett had been elected rector of St. Paul’s, and he delegated oversight to his curate, George Lynde Richardson. St. Paul’s curates who later served as minister-in-charge of St. Andrew’s were John Hale Griffith and Frederick St. George McLean.
The Ontario Street building was hardly ideal, and planning soon began for a permanent building for the Chapel. In November 1896, St. Paul’s purchased lots on the southeast corner of Western Avenue and Main Street. Over that winter, contractors Gick & Sayles were retained, with construction due to begin the next spring.
And so it came to pass on that June afternoon in 1897, that the Rev. Mr. Jewett turned the first shovelful of soil, starting construction of St. Paul’s Chapel of St. Andrew. In the next few months, I’ll bring the story forward, first to the consecration of the building, and then to St. Andrew’s establishment as a separate parish in 1899.