The Neemes Memorial Lectern

When St. Paul’s was forced to move from our long-time home on Lancaster Street, the wardens and vestry had a difficult decision to make. Of the many memorial objects in the century-old building, how many could be incorporated into the “new modernistic St. Paul’s”[1] on Hackett Boulevard? As a Times Union reporter framed the issue, “the congregation was faced with deciding how to retain this heritage tastefully in the contemporary style building.”[2]

Plans were made early on to include ten of the memorial windows into the new narthex.  Our only Tiffany window found a place in the vesting room and two brass tablets were installed in the new building. But most of the remaining memorial objects were either left with the building to be auctioned by the State or buried beneath the new altar.

Neemes memorial lectern

But there is one other memorial hidden in plain sight in the Hackett Boulevard building. I’m speaking of the small lectern in the narthex, holding the guest register. A brass plaque names the three sisters in whose memory it was given:

Sarah Neemes (1831-1904)

Phebe Neemes Washburn (1842-1910)

Elizabeth Neemes Husted (1843 – 1909)

The lectern was dedicated in January 1911 and placed in the baptistry of the Lancaster Street church. With this addition, the baptistry was entirely decorated in marble with glass mosaic, all the pieces designed and built by J. and R. Lamb Studios. In addition to the lectern, it consisted of a marble platform with the decorated wall behind it,[3] a tablet in memory of John and Rosanna Clemishire,[4] and an image of the Christ Child.[5] The only photograph I can locate was taken about 1958, showing an unidentified woman. You can just see the top of the font and the lectern and a bit of the wall behind the platform.

Lancaster Street Baptistry, about 1958

The lectern was donated by Phebe Neemes Washburn’s daughters, Katherine Washburn Le Boeuf and Elizabeth Washburn McKown. You may recognize those names. Two windows in our chapel were given in memory of the daughters.

“The Resurrection,” window in memory of Katherine Washburn Le Bouef

Katherine Washburn (1872-1943) married Randall J. Le Boeuf, a long-time St. Paul’s vestryman and warden. She donated the chapel’s rose window to his memory in 1942.

“The Last Supper,” window in memory of Elizabeth Washburn McKown

Elizabeth Washburn (1871-1948) married William J. McKown. This window was purchased with a bequest to St. Paul’s in her will.

[1] “Episcopal Church Consecrated: Modernistic St. Paul’s Replaces Mall Site Edifice,” Times Union Jun 1966 (precise date not available).

[2] “The New St. Paul’s Ready Next Week,” Times Union 2 Apr 1966.

[3] “Interest is Increasing at St. Paul’s,” The Argus 1 Apr 1907, page 3. 1912 Year Book: “Erected in memory of James Bogart Laing, for many years a vestryman of Saint James’ Church, Brooklyn, and as a thank- offering for the Baptism of James Bogart Laing Huntington, whose baptism took place in Saint Paul’s, 1906.”

[4] 1912 Year Book: “erected to the memory of John and Rosanna Clemishire by their children. Mr. Clemishire was a vestryman and one of the firm of builders which constructed the present edifice.”

[5] 1912 Year Book: “In memory of William C. Bouck Murray and Bessie Sanford Murray, children of Dr. and Mrs. William H. Murray, the donors.” A recent record of this item is a 2012 auction sale. https://www.cowanauctions.com/lot/ecclesiastical-mosaic-set-in-marble-105407 last accessed 12 Jan 2023.

1 thought on “The Neemes Memorial Lectern

  1. Pingback: What’s Up in the Neighborhood, January 14, 2023 – Chuck The Writer

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