Author Archives: Paul Nance

St. Paul’s Tiffany Window

Even long-time members of St. Paul’s may not be aware that our building contains a Tiffany[i] window. Because “Christ the Good Shepherd” is in the vesting room, only clergy, servers and altar guild are able to see it regularly.

“Christ the Good Shepherd” window

We have mentioned before that ten of the Lancaster Street nave windows (most of them the work of J. & R. Lamb Studios) were moved to the narthex of our current building in 1966. Unfortunately, less than forty years later, the windows’ supports were found to be unstable, and they were sold, replaced by contemporary stained glass. So it is that only the Tiffany “Christ the Good Shepherd” remains of windows from the Lancaster nave. Windows from the Memorial Chapel on Lancaster Street, however, can still be found in our chapel.

J. Livingston Reese

This window is a memorial to John Livingston Reese, rector of St. Paul’s from 1864 until 1891. Those twenty-seven years make Reese St. Paul’s longest-serving rector. A history of the church where Reese served before St. Paul’s described Reese, “known years afterward as the aristocratic rector of St Paul’s Church, Albany,” as “[t]all, well-built, a veritable patrician, with a keen analytical mind, and eloquent, born to command.”[ii] He must have been an imposing figure indeed, and perhaps more respected than loved by many. Reese left a sizable endowment to St. Paul’s, which provided significant income to St. Paul’s in the early twentieth century. He is buried in Albany Rural Cemetery.

J. Livingston Reese monument, Albany Rural Cemetery

Helen Louisa Hewson Wilson

Funds for the window were raised by a committee of women of the parish, chaired by Helen Louisa Hewson Wilson. It was unveiled on November 12, 1899 in a service with a special musical program, overseen by organist and choirmaster George Edgar Oliver.[iii]

George Edgar Oliver

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Albany Times Union 11 Nov 1899

The original design included a panel of equal size with images of two adoring angels that stood above the image of the good shepherd.[iv] In 1964, the angel window (with all of the windows not moved to the Hackett Boulevard building) was auctioned by New York State, and sold to Chapman Stained Glass Studios in Albany.[v] The windows fate after that sale is not known.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] See the Tiffany Census http://www.cambridge2000.com/tiffany/html/site/3.2.8.html last accessed 02 Jun 2018.

[ii] “Fiftieth Anniversary of St. Paul’s Church, Lock Haven, Pa.” The Church Standard, 7 October 1905, 731.

[iii] “Tribute of Love: the Reese Memorial Window in St. Paul’s Church,” Albany Times Union 11 Nov 1899. See also an almost identical article “In Memory of Dr. Reese” in the Albany Evening Journal 11 Nov 1899, 10.

[iv] “Tribute of Love”. See also the Tiffany Census http://www.cambridge2000.com/tiffany/html/site/3.2.2.html last accessed 02 Jun 2018.

[v] Files of the New York State Office of General Services related to demolition for the South Mall, held by the New York State Archives, box 16209-91, folder “Demolition — St. Paul’s Church.”

Bill White, Chorister

Recollections of St. Paul’s Boy Choir, circa 1943

St. Paul’s archives recently received a donation from long-time parishioner Bill White: a portrait of Bill robed as a St. Paul’s chorister about 1943. Bill vividly remembers his service in the choir of men and boys under organist and choirmaster Raymond Sherwood Halse. The fifteen boys rehearsed three times each week: twice by themselves, and once with the men of the choir.

Bill White as a St. Paul’s chorister, about 1943

But the choir was not only work. Bill also remembers that each Sunday Mr. Halse rated each boys’ performance. An A+ rating earned the boy a trip to Rheingold’s Pharmacy at 264 Lark (the corner of Lark and Hudson streets) for an ice cream soda. In the summer, Bill remembers that the boys had a vacation, with no rehearsals required, either at the YMCA camp on Cossayuna Lake near Salem, New York, or on Burden Lake in Rensselaer County.

These rewards were not new to the choir. The tradition of summer vacations at Lake Cossayuna went back until at least 1922, and were carried forward by Bill’s choirmaster, Raymond J. Halse, who had himself sung in St. Paul’s choir as a boy.

And a bit about Bill White’s Choirmaster…

When Raymond Halse was first listed in the choir roster in 1909, the choirmaster was Robert H. Moore, who had founded the twentieth century boy’s choir at St. Paul’s in May 1906, four months after Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks became rector.[i]

Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks

Halse initially sang for Robert H. Moore as a soprano, then as an alto beginning in 1913, the year he was alto soloist.[ii] Moore resigned in March or April 1915[iii], and later that year, T.F.H. Candlyn arrived to begin his long and successful tenure at St. Paul’s.

T. Frederick H. Candlyn at St. Paul’s organ.

Ray Halse continued as an alto through Candlyn’s first year.[iv] But his connection with St. Paul’s and Candlyn did not end in 1916. Halse began to study organ with Candlyn[v], and also arranged service music performed by the choir.[vi] As a student at Albany High School, Halse also studied with George Edgar Oliver, St. Paul’s organist from 1887 until 1901.[vii] And Halse was also a student of Frank Sills Rodgers, organist at St. Peter’s Church, and served as Rodgers’s assistant, substituting for him during the summer.[viii]

George Edgar Oliver

Following his graduation from Albany High School in 1917, as a result of this excellent experience and training, Halse won jobs at Fourth Reformed Church (1918-1921) and Third Reformed Church (1921-1943).[ix]

In addition to his duties as organist and choirmaster, Halse had a day job, working as office manager at a pharmaceutical company. And he had interests in popular music as well. During the First World War, he arranged the song “We’ll Make the Germans All Sing Yankee Doodle Doo,” with lyrics by fellow Albany High graduate, David M. Kinnear. Halse was also a member of (and frequent accompanist for) the Mendelssohn Society.[x]

“We’ll Make the Germans All Sing Yankee Doodle Doo,” arranged by Raymond S. Halse

Candlyn left St. Paul’s in 1943 move to St. Thomas Church in Manhattan, and Halse was quickly hired to replace his mentor, beginning on October 1 of that year. So, Halse was quite new as organist and choirmaster when Bill White sang for him. During 1947, in addition to his other church duties, Halse directed “St. Paul’s School of Music,” offering lessons in piano, organ and voice at the parish hall address on Jay Street.[xi] Halse was to remain at St. Paul’s until his resignation in 1950, when he returned the Third Reformed Church.

[i] By autumn of the same year, the Albany Evening Journal reported:

The choir of men and boys and St. Paul’s church, under the direction of Robert H. Moore, is receiving many flattering comments upon the splendid work being done. The boys were organized in May, with the intention of displacing the ladies then connected with the choir, and since September have been singing all the services. There has been no change in the high class of music formerly used in St. Paul’s, the difficult anthems and morning and evening services being rendered with fine volume and tone. The choir meets for rehearsal four times each week, three being for boys only and one for men and boys combined. [“Music Notes,” Albany Evening Journal, no date available, but likely Nov 1906.]

[ii] St. Paul’s Year Books for 1909 – 1916.

[iii] Moore, explaining his resignation, said “that his action is entirely voluntary, and gives as his reason that the music committee wished to try a system of choir management which did not meet with his approval.” [“R.H. Moore, Organist at St. Paul’s 12 Years, Resigns,” Albany Evening Journal, no date available, but about April 1915.]

[iv] St. Paul’s Year Book for 1915; St. Paul’s Year Book for 1916.

[v] “Raymond S. Halse of Albany Named Organist and Choirmaster of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church,” Albany Times Union 26 Sep 1943.

[vi] “Raymond S. Halse, Organist, Dies,” Albany Times Union 13 Nov 1969.

[vii] “Raymond S. Halse, Organist, Dies”.

[viii] “Raymond S. Halse of Albany Named Organist and Choirmaster of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church”.

[ix] “Raymond S. Halse of Albany Named Organist and Choirmaster of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church”.

[x] “Raymond S. Halse, Organist, Dies”.

[xi] A total of seven classified advertisements in the Albany Times Union and Knickerbocker News during March and August 1947.

Easter 1968

It’s Easter Sunday, and today we share two slides taken on another Easter Sunday fifty years ago, April 14, 1968. The first slide show the rector, J. Raymond McWilliam, approaching the altar. The second slide shows him at the altar, with his back to the congregation, as was then the custom. Many thanks to Dave Van Hattum and Bob Peters, who provided the identifications.

Easter 1968

The two servers at the altar wearing red cassocks are Robert Peters and Richard Green. The one torch-bearer visible is David Van Hattum and the crucifer is John O’Meara.

 

Easter 1968

The server wearing a red cassock is Richard Green.

The Trimble Opera House

After the fire of January 1868, the blackened façade of the Academy of Music (formerly the Albany Theatre and St. Paul’s Church) stood alone and forlorn on South Pearl Street for almost two years. There was wide public interest in building a new Academy of Music, but progress came very slowly. In November 1868, Hugh J. Hastings sold the property to John M. Trimble’s widow, Mary Ann Trimble.[i] Then in March 1869, New York State chartered a corporation named “The Academy of Music in the City of Albany,” whose aim to was issue stock to fund a new theater.[ii] Later that month, three trustees were elected, one of whom was the owner of Albany’s Delavan House, Charles E. Leland, who will figure prominently in this story.[iii]

The Delavan Hotel (credit: Albany Group Archive)

But it was only in November 1869 that Mrs. Trimble took action, in conjunction with Lucien Barnes, husband of her daughter Ada G. Trimble[iv]. Barnes (the uncle of William Barnes, Jr., head of the Albany Republican organization[v]) had been chief clerk and cashier at the New York State Department of Insurance[vi], and no doubt helped his mother-in-law arrange the issuance of $40,000 in bonds, mortgaged by three trustees, among them (once again) Charles E. Leland.[vii] Mary Ann Trimble leased the theater to Barnes for a period of eleven years at a nominal rate of $1,000 annually, conditioned on his paying the principal and interest of the bonds.[viii]

Barnes hired architect Thomas R. Jackson, who had produced the designs for the Academy of Music six years earlier. The building went up very quickly, and was complete only 51 days after work began.[ix] The day before the grand opening, the theater was opened for the stockholders, with refreshments served by Charles E. Leland’s Delavan Hotel staff.

Of the Opera House itself we cannot speak in too high terms of praise. It is certainly one of the most beautiful places of amusement in the country. The decorations are superb, the fixtures unexcelled, and the entire outfit the best money can buy. No expense has been spared to make it, in all respects and every particular, equal to any of the metropolitan theatres. The private boxes are magnificently furnished – each one being a parlor of itself. In fact not anything is lacking to ensure comfort and pleasure to the patrons of the establishment.[x]

The next evening, December 31, 1869, the new theater opened with a production of Richard Sheridan’s The School for Scandal.

Playbill for Opening Night at the Trimble Opera House, 31 Dec 1869

Only four days after the theater’s reopening, a tragedy occurred, when the music director, Conrad Louis Underner, died suddenly during a performance.[xi] “Lewey” was the son of well-known local music Conrad Underner, with whom he had played in the orchestra of the old Albany Theatre.[xii] He was also a composer of several marches. Lewey’s brother, John Underner, was also a composer and organist at St. Paul’s Church in 1847, when it was in the former Albany Theatre.

Marie Bonfanti in The Black Crook (credit: New York Public Library Digital Collection)

A highlight of the first season was the production of “Black Crook,” featuring lead dancer Marie Bonfanti. This production played for a full month to standing-room crowds, and seems not to have created the furor in Albany as it had in New York City, despite the then-scandalous sight of women in tights.

Cover to the Black Crook Demon Dance

Chorus of The Black Crook (credit: New York Public Library Digital Collectdion)

The season of 1870-1871 included such stars as

  • Joseph K. Emmett (who later built the mansion that became Wolfert’s Roost), playing “Fritz, Our Cousin German”
  • Lotta (born Charlotte Mignon Crabtree)

Joseph K. Emmett as “Fritz” (credit: New York Public Library Digital Collections)

Lotta (credit: New York Public Library Digital Collection)

Franceska Janauschek (credit: New York Public Library Digital Collections)

Joseph Jefferson as Rip Van Winkle (credit: University of Illinois Theatrical Print Collection)

Despite this glamorous season, Barnes was having financial problems. In late 1871, Mary Ann Trimble issued two additional mortgages on the property to allow Barnes to repay Charles E. Leland and Alexander Dickey “for money loaned, and work, labor and services, and material.” Another condition of Barnes’s’ lease was that he was to pay all taxes and water bills. He had failed to do so, and the Albany County Treasurer was threatening to sell the building at public auction if payment was not made.[xiii] Barnes’s financial problems were likely compounded by marital problems: Barnes and Ada Trimble were later divorced.[xiv]

By May 1872, Barnes was insolvent, and was declared bankrupt in July of that year,[xv] his only asset the value of his lease from Mrs. Trimble.[xvi] He left as manager on July 31, 1872, having taken gross receipts of almost $215,000 in the two and a half years of his lease.[xvii] In December 1872, Mrs. Trimble sold the property to Warren F. Leland (on behalf of his brother, Charles E. Leland, and Alexander Dickey, holders of the mortgages on the property), who leased it to Aaron Richardson,[xviii] and later (avoiding complications of Richardson’s pending divorce) to Richardson’s sister, Sarah Phillips.[xix]

In May 1876, having terminated Aaron Richardson’s lease, Warren F. Leland sold the theater to Charles E. Leland.[xx] It is later that year that we see the first advertisement for the Leland Opera House, as it was to be known for many years thereafter.[xxi]

[i] Albany County Clerk Deed Book 219, pages 207-208, dated 28 Nov 1868. “The Trimble Opera House: Its Legal History – The Curtain Rung Up on the Last Act – A Foreclosure Suit Commenced” Albany Evening Times Dec (probably 27) 1880.

[ii] “The New Academy of Music,” Albany Morning Express 19 Mar 1869.

[iii] “Meeting of the Corporation of the New Academy of Music,” Albany Morning Express, 29 Mar 1869.

[iv] H.P. Phelps, The Players of a Century (Albany: Joseph McDonough, 1880), 376.

[v] “Proctor Sells Leland,” New York Clipper, 21 Jun 1922.

[vi] Phelps, 376.

[vii] Phelps, 376.

[viii] “The Trimble Opera House: Its Legal History”.

[ix] Phelps, 376-377.

[x] “The Reception at the Trimble Opera House,” Albany Morning Express, 31 Dec 1869.

[xi] “Sudden Death,” Albany Morning Express 04 Jan 1870.

[xii] “’Lewey’ Underner – His Early Connection with the Orchestra of the Old Pearl Strreet Theatre.” Albany Morning Express 08 Mar 1868.

[xiii] “The Trimble Opera House,” Albany Evening Times 21 May 1872.

[xiv] Ada Trimble married twice more, both times to actors. A marriage to Harold Forsberg ended in divorce in 1884, after repeated reports of domestic abuse. [One incident is graphically described in the Daily Argus for 5 Jun 1874]. She married for the third and final time to Frederick Bryton in 1887. [“At the Theater,” Trenton Evening Times 16 Oct 1887]

[xv] “The Trimble Opera House: Its Legal History”.

[xvi] “Lucien Barnes’ Bankruptcy,” Daily Albany Argus, 2 Sep 1872.

[xvii] “H.R. Jacobs Opera House,” Albany Evening Times 17 Aug 1889

[xviii] “The Trimble Opera House: Its Legal History”

[xix] “The Opera House: More Litigation,” Albany Evening Journal 30 Nov 1875.

[xx] “The Trimble Opera House: Its Legal History”.

[xxi] Classified advertisement, Albany Argus 26 May 1876

The Academy of Music

After St. Paul’s sold its building on South Pearl Street to Hugh J. Hastings in October 1862, the building sat vacant for a year. In October 1863, Hastings announced that he had leased the theater to John M. Trimble for a period of ten years, with the right to purchase it after five years.[i]

It is [Trimble’s] intention to fit up the place in splendid style, regardless of expense, in order that it may be made worthy of the support and patronage of our citizens. Mr. T. proposes to introduce all the latest improvements; and in point of ornamentation and decoration to make it fully equal if not superior to any place of entertainment in New York, Boston or Philadelphia.[ii]

Old Bowery Theatre, New York City (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Trimble hoped to have the building ready by the holidays. Trimble certainly had the skills and experience for the task. He had built rebuilt the Bowery Theater in New York City in sixty days, and in his career had built, renovated or designed thirty-four theaters.[iii] Trimble had been blind for several years, so the task of drawing the plans fell to his colleague Thomas R. Jackson.[iv]

 

 

Two early accounts of the renovation of the building claim that when the church floor was removed, the pit and orchestra were found just as in the original theater, and a copy of the program from the final performance was recovered.[v] Given the scope of the 1839 renovation, it is hard to believe that that much of the original structure could have remained.

Just before the theater reopened on December 28, 1863, the Albany Morning Express gushed that Trimble,

as if possessed of the Lamp of Aladdin, … willed the transformation of old St. Paul’s Church into a fairy palace; and presto! the job is done, and done on a scale of liberality and magnificence that far more than realize the wildest expectations of the most exacting and fastidious; all that his vast and various experience, refined taste, and a lavish expenditure of money could produce are centered on this superb edifice.[vi]

The author of this article was also pleased that the new design included “no bar, saloon, or other depot of abomination.”[vii]

An early production at the new theater was a first for the city of Albany: the performance of fully-staged opera. In January 1864, the impresario Jacob Grau brought his company, Grand Italian Opera in America, to Albany, where it presented Lucrezia Borgia. “It was the first time a complete operatic performance, in costume, and with full orchestra, had ever been given in Albany.”[viii]

Mary Provost (credit: Univeristy of Washington Libraries)

Later that year, in appreciation of his renovating the theater, Albany presented Trimble with a benefit performance, subsidized by a committee of prominent local figures, including Thurlow Weed, Erastus Dow Palmer, Albert B. Street, Erastus Corning, Jr. and John Tweddle. The resident company donated its service, as did the leading lady, Mary Provost.[ix]

 

 

 

 

 

Edwin Forrest as Hamlet (credit: University of Illinois Special Collections)

Another highlight of this first season was the appearance of Edwin Forrest, who played in three Shakespeare plays, Hamlet, Othello and Macbeth, in a single week. Forrest had first appeared at the Albany Theatre in 1825 when he was barely out of his teens. By 1864, he was an established star.[x]

Academy of Music Playbill 1865

The seasons of 1863 through 1867 were financially very successful, with average annual receipts of $15,000.[xi] But John M. Trimble’s health declined in the last year, and his daughter Ada G. Trimble assisted him. When John Trimble died in June 1867, the lease was assumed by his widow, Mary Trimble. Miss Trimble, then only about 24 years old, reluctantly agreed to take on the role of manager.[xii]

Albany Morning Express 28 Jan 1868

The Academy of Music’s 1867 season began on September 2, with Ada Trimble as manager.[xiii] In December of that year, the mortgage (presumably the mortgage on the sets, costumes and props) was paid in full.[xiv] On January 27 and 28, 1868, Charles Barron starred in Hilda, and was scheduled to perform the role the next night.[xv]

 

 

 

Charles Barron (credit: Wake Forest University Special Collections)

Early in the morning of January 29, 1868, a fire was reported in John Burk’s concert saloon, next door to the theater. The fire was contained, and soon thought to be out, but as the firemen were leaving, fire was discovered in the theater. Within half an hour, the entire building was in flames.[xvi] Later that day, a local newspaper reported that “the building was burned to the ground, with the exception of the front wall, which is all that now remains of the original structure of 1825.” Hastings, the owner of the building, had the entire value of the building covered by insurance. For the Trimble family, however, the loss was total.[xvii]

Academy of Music after the January 1868 fire (Harper’s, 15 Feb 1868)

In our next segment, we will see how the theater rose from these ashes, this time known as the Trimble Opera House.

[i] “Fire This Morning,” Albany Evening Journal 29 Jan 1868.

[ii] “An Academy of Music,” Albany Morning Express, 13 Oct 1863.

[iii] “John M. Trimble, Architect and Theatrical Manager,” New York Times 9 Jun 1867, quoting the obituary from the Albany Evening Journal.

[iv] “Albany Academy of Music,” Albany Morning Express 22 Dec 1863.

[v] H.P. Phelps, The Players of a Century (Albany: Joseph McDonough, 1880), 216 and Collections of the History of Albany, Volume 2 (Albany: J. Munsell, 1867), 37.

[vi] “Albany Academy of Music”.

[vii] “Albany Academy of Music”.

[viii] Collections of the History of Albany, Volume 2 (Albany: J. Munsell, 1867), 182. A notice about plans for the engagement appeared in Albany Morning Express 22 Dec 1863. Grau’s obituary (New York Herald 15 Dec 1877) mentions that he was the manager for Isabella Hinckley, one-time soloist in St. Paul’s choir.

[ix] “Testimonial to John M. Trimble,” Albany Morning Express 15 Jun 1864; “Benefit of John M. Trimble, Esq.,” Albany Morning Express 18 Jun 1864; “Testimonial to John M. Trimble,” Albany Morning Express 20 Jun 1864

[x] “Academy of Music,” Albany Morning Express 27 Oct 1854.

[xi] “H.R. Jacobs Opera House,” Albany Evening Times 17 Aug 1889.

[xii] Jane Kathleen Curry, Nineteenth-century American Women Theatre Managers (Westport CT: Greenwood Press, 1994), 122.

[xiii] “H.R. Jacobs Opera House”.

[xiv] Collections of the History of Albany, 329-330.

[xv] Classified advertisement, Albany Morning Express 28 Jan 1868.

[xvi] “Fire This Morning”.

[xvii] “H.R. Jacobs Opera House”.

Henry Yates Satterlee

St. Paul’s is proud that four of its rectors went on to be consecrated as bishops in the Episcopal Church in the United States. They were:

  • William Ingraham Kip: rector 1837-1853, first missionary Bishop of California, first Bishop of California
  • Thomas Alfred Starkey: rector 1854-1858, Bishop of Northern New Jersey (now the diocese of Newark)
  • Arthur R. McKinstry: rector 1927-1931, Bishop of Delaware
  • George Taylor: rector 1932-1948, Bishop of Easton

There were several others associated with St. Paul’s who also became bishops, and we remember one of them today: Henry Yates Satterlee, the first Bishop of Washington, D.C.

Henry Yates Satterlee

Henry Y. Satterlee was born in 1843 in New York City, but both of his parents were born in the city of Albany and had long family ties in this area. The family moved to Albany in 1846 so that his mother, Jane Anna Yates Satterlee, could manage the household of her father, Henry Christopher Yates. The Yates Mansion (also known as the Yates-Kane house or Ash Grove) was located at what is now the south side of Ash Grove Place between Grand Street and Trinity Place. It was here in the Yates Mansion that Henry lived from age 3 to 13. [i]

The Yates Mansion

Henry’s father, Edward Satterlee, was only nominally a member of the Dutch Reform Church.[ii] Henry’s mother. on the other hand, regularly attended two churches: the Dutch Reformed on Sunday mornings, and the Episcopal in the afternoon. She owned a pew at St. Paul’s Church during the period when William Ingraham Kip and Thomas Alfred Starkey were rectors.[iii] St. Paul’s building on South Pearl Street would have been convenient to the mansion; it was only a ten minute through Kane’s Walk (the park that gave Ash Grove its name) and up Pearl Street.

Kane’s Walk and the Yates Mansion

We know that Henry Satterlee attended St. Paul’s Sunday School.[iv] But Mrs. Satterlee must have also brought Henry along with her to St. Paul’s services where he heard sermons. The family tells a story about his reaction to the services:

Henry, as a small boy, used to come back after service, tie an apron over his shoulders and deliver a sermon, saying the Episcopal Church was the one he proposed to enter.[v]

One wonders whether Satterlee’s attraction to the Oxford Movement started when he heard the sermons of Thomas A. Starkey. Whose “high-church notions” caused an uproar at St. Paul’s in this period.

Henry was first privately tutored by Miss Ellen P. Frisbee, an 1849 graduate of the State Normal School[vi], and then attended the Albany Academy.[vii] Satterlee also learned Dutch from his mother, who was fluent in the language.[viii] When he visited the Pruyn household in Albany as an adult, he was still able to write out a Dutch poem for the Pruyn children. Huybertie Puryn reported that “[h]e did not vouch for the accuracy of his spelling, as his so-called ‘Bible Dutch’ had become blurred in the passing years.”[ix]

Albany Map of 1857, showing Ash Grove and its neighborhood

Henry’s grandfather, Henry Christopher Yates, died in 1854. Two years later, the family returned to New York City.[x] Henry graduated from Columbia College in 1863 and then (following up on his boyish enthusiasm for preaching in the Episcopal church), attended the General Theological Seminary, from which he graduated in 1865.

He served at Zion Church, Wappingers Falls, New York from 1865 until 1882, initially as curate, and later as rector. He was then called as rector of the influential Calvary Church in Manhattan, where was rector until 1896.

Henry Yates Satterlee was consecrated the first Bishop of Washington, D.C. in 1896, and served in that role until his death in 1908. He is best known as the driving force behind the construction of the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, popularly known as the Washington National Cathedral. Satterlee is buried in the Bethlehem Chapel of the cathedral.[xi]

Henry Y. Satterlee’s Tomb (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

[i] Charles H. Brent, Master Builder: Being the Life and Letters of Henry Yates Satterlee First Bishop of Washington (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1916), 6. Huybertie Pruyn Hamlin (see note ix below) also reports that Satterlee lived in the Yates-Kane house, but is mistaken when she says that it was at 102 State Street.

[ii] Brent, 2-3.

[iii] Brent, 3-4.

[iv] Label on Saterlee’s portrait in the St. Paul’s portrait gallery.

[v] Brent, 4.

[vi] An Historical Sketch of the State Normal College at Albany, N.Y and a History of Its Graduates for Fifty Years (Albany: Brandow Printing Company, 1894), 124.

[vii] Brent, 9.

[viii] Brent, 5.

[ix] Huybertie Pruyn Hamlin, An Albany Girlhood, ed. Alice P. Kenney (Albany: Washington Park Press Ltd., 1990), 137.

[x] Brent. 9.

[xi] Wikipedia “Henry Y. Satterlee,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Y._Satterlee. accessed 19 Feb 2018.

The Albany Theatre Becomes the Home of St. Paul’s Church

As we saw in our earlier post, the first period for the Albany Theatre ended with Henry W. Preston’s surrender of the lease to the Albany Theatre Association on April 1, 1839. Fifteen managers in almost as many years had staged the best of drama with some of the finest actors of the time, but none was able to consistently make money for the investors. The Association chose to sell, and found an unusual purchaser. Just as had happened with the Green Street Theatre earlier in the century, the Albany Theatre was sold to a church, St. Paul’s Episcopal.

St. Paul’s, Ferry Street

In February 1839, St. Paul’s was a dozen years old, but like the theater, had never been able to find financial security. Founded in 1827, the congregation had moved two years later into their new building on South Ferry Street. In this period, Albany was growing rapidly as a result of the completion of the Erie Canal. Trade on the canal brought in many new residents, and the South End was the area of most rapid growth. St. Paul’s was something of an experiment: the hope was that the new congregation could attract St. Peter’s parishioners who had moved to the South End, but also draw residents of the area who were unchurched. This plan would only work if those attracted were able to support the church by purchasing a pew and paying an additional annual pew rent. At that time, this was the most common way of supporting a church.

Diagram of Ferry Street Church, showing pew appraisals

The new church building was quite expensive, and the vestry went deep into debt, assuming that they would be able to pay the principal and interest as new members purchased pews. But the expected influx of new residents did not occur, and those newcomers who did join were not able to purchase pews. St. Paul’s found itself on the underpopulated edge of the city, with pews not paid for, and unable to pay its creditors. The congregation struggled for several years, but the crisis came in January 1839, when a court ordered them to sell the building in order to pay the creditors.

We do not know if St. Paul’s vestry had another option, but we do wonder why they chose a new site only three short blocks from St. Peter’s Church, the other Episcopal Church in the city of Albany. In the same January 24 vestry meeting at which the decision was made to sell the Ferry Street building, the vestry also agreed to obtain a right of refusal for purchase of the theater. And they took the first steps toward modifying the theater by hiring Henry Rector “to draw plans and estimate expenses of alterations necessary to convert the Theatre into a Church.” A month later, the vestry closed the sale on the theater, and approved plans by Rector to convert the building for use as a church.[i]

And so St. Paul’s moved from one Philip Hooker-designed building (the Ferry Street church) to another (the Albany Theatre). This was doubly appropriate, because Hooker’s parents had been among the earliest communicants of St. Paul’s.[ii]

At the sale of the building, the Albany Theatre Association turned over all the original stock certificates to St. Paul’s. The association also provided the congregation (for reasons that are not clear) with a “Schedule containing a list of Scenery &c in the Theatre belonging to the proprietors.”

Booklet documenting sale of Albany Theatre stock to St. Paul’s Church

With sale of the Ferry Street building in July, St. Paul’s had no place to meet. The congregation of St. Peter’s invited the homeless congregation to join with them during the interim, and the two congregations met together for the next eight months, with the two rectors, William Ingraham Kip and Horatio Potter, sharing clerical responsibilities. This was the second time the congregations had share ministers. The first was 1832, when St. Paul’s rector, William Linn Keese, also served St. Peter’s, when it was between rectors.

Trinity Church (image credit: Albany Group Archive)

But the entire congregation did not leave the South End. In a major split, a number of St. Paul’s families, including those of several vestry members, chose to stay in the South End and continue faithful to the original purpose. They formed a new congregation, to be known as Trinity Church. The new congregation was not strong or wealthy in its early years, but by 1848 they were able to build a handsome building on what is now Trinity Place, where they remained until they closed in about 1980.[iii]

As to the modifications necessary, Dr. Kip remembered later that “there was nothing left of the original edifice, but the four walls and roof.”[iv] The extent of the modifications is confirmed by a 14-page proposal in our archive (probably the Henry Rector plan), with detailed description of the modifications, beginning with the statement:

To accomplish the object intended, it will be necessary first to remove all the floors, partitions, boxes, seats & etc. in the interior of said building; leaving the whole area enclosed by the exterior walls from the cellar to the [word illegible] of the principal tie beams in one unencumbered space and then proceed to the construction of the walls, partitions, floors, galleries, seats, pulpit, chancel, ceilings and rooms for sextons & etc. as shown by the annexed plans.

Given the congregation’s financial condition, there were limits to what could be done. They were not able, for instance, to afford stained glass for the windows, and had to settle for “common ground glass.”[v]

St. Paul’s was, however, able to afford a new organ, replacing the instrument sold with the Ferry Street building. Negotiations began in early 1839, and by May of that year, the New York City musical instrument dealer Firth and Hall had agreed to liberal financing. This instrument, designed and built by Thomas Robjohn, under contract with Firth and Hall, was installed in September 1840.[vi]

The women of the parish also raised money to purchase communion chalices and paten that are still in use at St. Paul’s.[vii]

One of the chalices purchased in 1839

The extensive renovations took longer than expected. The congregation initially expected to be in the new building by November 1839[viii], but the renovations were not completed until February of the next year.

The remodeled building was consecrated by Benjamin Treadwell Onderdonk, Bishop of New York. The event had originally been scheduled for February 21, but “in consequence of the state of the roads” the bishop was not able to reach the city, and it was postponed until February 22.

A newspaper account of the consecration describes the renovated building:

We have heard but one opinion of the interior of this spacious edifice. Without pretension to architectural display, the effect is nevertheless admirable – and the arrangement and rich but chaste finish, well adapted to the sacred uses to which the building is now appropriated.[ix]

This account concludes with the reminder that the sale of pews would begin the next day. St. Paul’s continued to fund itself by the sale and rental of pews, and would for the next 80 years. It was not until 1927 that St. Paul’s did away with pew rents, despite a growing consensus in the denomination that pledged contributions were a much better option for supporting a congregation.

Pew Deed to William M. Gregory, dated 1 Jun 1854

While the choice of a theater so close to St. Peter’s seems odd, the vestry’s selection was a happy one, because the congregation flourished on South Pearl Street. Despite the closeness to St. Peter’s, the building’s location was an advantage. In the 1830’s, Pearl Street was one of the most prestigious residential areas of the city, and many neighbors became members of the new congregation. Barent P. Staats, a member of the 1827 vestry, described the situation in 1839 forcefully: “it [the church] was discovered shortly after the present [i.e., present rector, William Ingraham Kip] came to be hopelessly wrecked and it was absolutely necessary to take a new position & in reality to begin a new enterprise.”[x] Indeed it was a new enterprise. Rather than attempting to attract newcomers, as did those who broke off to form Trinity Church, St. Paul’s was now situated to attract Albany’s better class. As J. Livingston Reese, St. Paul’s rector 25 years later wrote: “It is most probable that this change of location saved the parish from ultimate extinguishment, and brought it where it could reach a larger and more influential part of the population.”[xi]

1858 receipt from the Albany Insurance Company on St. Paul’s South Pearl Street building

A later rector said:

I do not think it too much to say, that it was while St. Paul’s congregation worshipped in the edifice on South Pearl street, that it attained its greatest influence and distinction. This was practically during the long and brilliant rectorship of the Rev. Dr. William Ingraham Kip, who became rector in 1827 [actually 1837] and remained at the head of the parish until 1853.[xii]

Wm. Ingraham Kip at St. Paul’s altar (from an 1847 portrait by William Tolman Carlton)

Kip left St. Paul’s in 1853 to become missionary bishop of California. He was succeeded by two very strong leaders: Thomas A. Starkey (later Bishop of Newark, New Jersey) and William Rudder (subsequently long-term rector of St. Stephen’s, Philadelphia). Kip and Rudder were particularly known for their dynamic preaching, which attracted many new members.[xiii] Starkey was known for his pastoral skills, and for his interest in social outreach, including the creation of St. Paul’s Church Home for Women.

Thomas A. Starkey

During these years, the new Robjohn organ was presided over by a series of remarkable musicians: William L. Reston[xiv], Oliver J. Shaw[xv], John Underner[xvi], and William M. Daniell[xvii].

In a letter to the editor of the Albany Evening Journal, an Albanian signing himself “A Listener” provided this review of one of St. Paul’s services in its first year on Pearl Street:

I last evening had the pleasure of attending services in St. Paul’s Church, and I confess myself highly pleased with the whole service. Mr. Kip gave us a very highly finished sermon, at the same time calculated to carry conviction to the conscience of every individual. His was was “the second coming of our Lord to judge the world,” and the solemnity of the scene was heightened by the impressive manner of the speaker.

The organ (which by the way is one of the finest I ever listened to), was handled in an admirable manner by Mr. Shaw, a gentleman who stands deservedly high as an organist. The rich full chords, the perfect harmony, the ease and grace of the movement, spoke the master of the instrument. On the whole, the prospects of the church are flattering as could be wished, and the congregation are highly favored with the privilege of such religious instruction.[xviii]

This series culminated with George William Warren[xix], St. Paul’s most illustrious organist and choirmaster of the nineteenth century.

Rock of Ages by George William Warren

We have very few descriptions of the building’s interior in this period. One is most unflattering:

To the Wardens & Vestry of St. Paul’s
Church, Albany —
Gentlemen, —

When I purchased the pew in your Church, I was assured that a window would be opened at the north end of it. At present on a cloudy day or when an assemblage of darkly dressed persons are in front of us, you might as well attempt to read in a coal-hole. The pew will no longer answer us and I therefore return your deed on which I have paid my first instalment. You will probably be of my opinion that some portion of it may be & ought to be refunded to me.

Remaining Gentlemen

Your obt. Servant

Charles Smyth[xx]
Albany 8th January
1842

We also have a brief description from one of the choirboys in George William Warren’s short-lived boy choir. Writing more than fifty years later, Charles M. Nickerson remembered that the boys sat in the organ loft, with the organ to their right and the quartet choir on the other side.

When the sermon began, it was our wont to draw the curtain that hung over the front of the organ gallery and then slip out one by one by the door behind the organ into the Sunday School room, there to regale ourselves on candy and peanuts and enjoy general conversation until a signal from the choirmaster [George William Warren] called us back for the offertory hymn. This was in the old St. Paul’s the one time theatre on South Pearl St. The Sunday School room in the rear of the organ loft had no doubt served as the lobby or bar of the theatre.[xxi]

George William Warren

The “organ loft and and north room” are again mentioned in vestry minutes in 1858, when major renovations were made “fitting up and arranging the organ loft and north room with carpets, gas, painting, gilding and decorating for the convenience of the musical director and the choir” as part of the May 1857 negotiations to rehire George William Warren for his final three years at St. Paul’s. These expenses contributed to the church’s budget shortfall, requiring the next year a plea from the vestry for pew-owners to increase their pew rental.

By 1860, the advantages of the Pearl Street location had faded. The neighborhood had changed from largely residential to commercial. The vestry determined to look elsewhere in the city and sold the Pearl Street building.

William Rudder, rector at that time later remembered:

The old church had served its purpose, and its day of fullest usefulness was gone. The part of the city in which it was situated had completely changed its character within a few years. The church had become hemmed in by places of business, and by other surroundings of a very undesirable character; and the congregation was drifting away, and more and more each year, to the more desirable western portions of the city. Under these circumstances the vestry determined to build a new church edifice to meet the new conditions of the case, and one more worthy of the position and ability of the parish.[xxii]

William Rudder

In October 1862 the building was sold for $14,000 to Hugh J. Hastings, who a yer later leased it to theater architect John M. Trimble.[xxiii] In our next segment, we will follow the building’s history as Trimble makes the church once more a theater: the Academy of Music.

[i] Joel Munsell, The Annals of Albany, Series 2, Volume 3 (Albany: Joel Munsell, 1871), 338-339.

[ii] Samuel Hooker (1746-1832) and Rachel Hinds Hooker became communicants of St. Paul’s in July and August 1830 respectively. The couple moved to Utica, New York in 1832.

[iii] Joel Munsell, The Annals of Albany, Series 2, Volume 3 (Albany: Joel Munsell, 1871), 337-394.

[iv] John Edward Rawlinson, “William Ingraham Kip: Tradition, Conflict and Transition” (Ph.D. dissertation, Graduate Theological Union, 1982), 18, quoting a 9 Apr 1852 letter from Kip to Thomas N. Stanford, partner in the publishing firm of Stanford & Swords.

[v] Rawlinson, 18.

[vi] Albany Argus 4 Sep 1840. Correspondence and the bill of sale are held in the archives of St. Paul’s Church.

[vii] Rawlinson, 18, quoting a 29 Oct 1839 letter from Kip to Mr. Sherman.

[viii] Parochial report for St. Paul’s, Albany in Journal of the Proceedings of the Fifty-fifth Convention of the Diocese of New York: Held in St. Paul’s Chapel in the City of New-York on Thursday, October 3d and Friday, Oct. 4th, A.D. 1839 (New York: Printed for the Convention), 1839, 67. A vestryman, Simeon DeWitt Bloodgood, had also hoped that the congregation would be in the new building by fall (Bloodgood’s 30 Mar 1839 letter to Harmanus Bleecker, transcribed in Harriet Langdon Pruyn Rice, Harmanus Bleecker: An Albany Dutchman 1779-1849 (Albany: William Boyd, 1924), 187-188).

[ix] Albany Argus, 25 Feb 1840.

[x] St. Paul’s vestry minutes, volume 2, 77.

[xi] “Historical Sketch of St. Paul’s Parish: From a Sermon of the Rector,” in The Semi-centennial Services of St. Paul’s Church, Albany, N.Y. 1877 (Albany: The Argus Company, 1877), 13.

[xii] William Prall, “The Past, Present and Future: A Sermon Preached January 26th, 1902 in Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the Parish of St. Paul’s, Albany, N.Y.,” 4.

[xiii] Brooks, “Sermon delivered by the Reverend Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks on Sunday morning, November 17th, 1907, in commemoration of the Eightieth Anniversary of the Founding of St. Paul’s Parish in the City of Albany,” printed in St. Paul’s Year Book for 1907, pages 7-8.

[xiv] St. Paul’s organist 1839-1840. Born about 1811 in England. Organist at St. John’s Church, Kirkheaton, West Yorkshire. Teacher at the Albany Female Academy.

[xv] St. Paul’s organist intermittently between 1840 and 1847. Born about 1817 in Providence, Rhode Island, son of noted composer Oliver Shaw. Active there and in Bangor Maine. Music teacher, performer and composer of popular music in Albany 1841-1852 or later. Moved Utica where he was again active as performer and teacher until his death in 1861

[xvi] St. Paul’s organist 1846-1847. Born 1829 in Albany, member of a prestigious musical family. Composer, accompanist to Jenny Lind on her United States tour. Died 1904.

[xvii] St. Paul’s organist and choirmaster 1847-1848. Born 1811 in England, educated at the Royal College of Music, accomplished horn player as well as organist. Died 24 Aug 1892 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

[xviii] Albany Evening Journal, 21 Dec 1840. City directories from 1858 – 1860 show a number of wholesale and retail groceries in the block. One neighbor “of a very undesirable character” was the Empire House on the corner on South Pearl and Beaver, with 42 guest rooms that seem to have been particularly favored by actors, and a “lager beer saloon” on the first floor.

[xix] St. Paul’s organist and choirmaster 1848-1856 and 1857-1860.

[xx] Charles Smyth (1783-1844) was a St. Paul’s vestryman for a single year (1835), possibly serving out another’s unexpired term. He had earlier served for ten years on St. Peter’s vestry. Smyth was in business in Albany with James Byrne, doing business as Byrne & Smyth, “vendue and commission business” as early as 1803. Later he was in partnership with James Wood (as Wood & Smyth), dissolved 1814. In 1818 (seven years before completion of the Erie Canal), he was assuring transportation of goods to the upper Great Lakes (Detroit and Sandusky) “by the most faithful and experienced teamsters” for no more than $4.50 per hundred-weight. Later he was involved in shipping, both in steam-boats on the Hudson River, and on the Erie Canal.

[xxi] Charles M. Nickerson, “St. Paul’s Choir of Fifty Years Ago” pages 25-26 of St. Paul’s Year Book for 1907. Is Nickerson perhaps referring to the second floor saloon, or the third floor area for refreshments mentioned in Hooker’s description of the theater?

[xxii] “Sermon of the Rev. William Rudder, D.D.,” in The Semi-centennial Services of St. Paul’s Church, Albany, N.Y. 1877 (Albany: The Argus Company, 1877), 35-36.

[xxiii] “An Academy of Music,” Albany Morning Express 13 Oct 1863. “Fire This Morning,” Albany Evening Journal 29 Jan 1868.  H.P. Phelps (in The Players of a Century. Albany: Joseph McDonough, 1880, pages 329-330) reports that Hastings sold the building to Trimble for $5,000 cash and a mortgage of $10,000. This cannot be correct. When the building was destroyed in 1868, Hastings was still the owner, with Trimble’s widow holding a ten year lease, with a right to purchase in five years.