Category Archives: Christmas

Christmas Ephemera from St. Paul’s Memory Book

On this last Sunday of Advent 2019, with Christmas Day just three days off, I’d like to share a few items from Christmases past, found in St. Paul’s Memory Book, a series of four large scrapbooks lovingly compiled by Mrs. Grace McKinlay Kennedy in the 1940s.

Starting with the most recent, here is the cover for the 1945 Christmas bulletin

Christmas Service Bulletin 1945

And a snapshot from the same year of the Christmas morning service in the Lancaster Street chapel. That’s the rector, George A. Taylor, reading the gospel. The two servers are his sons, Tucker Taylor and Frank Webb “Webbie” Taylor.

Christmas Morning Service 1945

Taylor was rector from 1932 until 1948.

George A. Taylor







Next, two Christmas cards from the family of Arthur R. McKinstry, rector from 1927 until 1931.

Arthur R. McKinstry


McKinstry Christmas Card 1927

McKinstry Christmas Card 1930







The cards, from 1927 and 1930, show the four children, ready for Christmas morning.

















And finally, a ticket from the Sunday School Christmas festival of 1880.

Sunday School Christmas Festival 1880

I’ve been unable to find any information about the event, but we know a bit about the location. Tweddle Hall (built by former St. Paul’s senior warden John Tweddle), was on the northwest corner of State and Pearl Streets in downtown Albany. Three years after the Christmas Festival, the structure burned, and was replaced by the Tweddle Building.

John Tweddle

Tweddle Hall, northwest corner of State and Pearl Streets (image credit: Albany Institute of History and Art)

This ticket was given to Mrs. Kennedy by Mrs. Mary A. Halse, aunt of St. Paul’s organist Raymond Sherwood Halse.

The Windows of St. Paul’s: Christmas

It’s Christmas Day, and a proper time to appreciate the rose window in St. Paul’s chapel, which reproduces a painting titled “Madonna and the Holy Children, Jesus and John.”

"The Madonna and the Holy Children, Jesus and John"

“The Madonna and the Holy Children, Jesus and John”

The rose window was originally installed in St. Paul’s Memorial Chapel on Lancaster Street, and dedicated on March 29, 1942 by G. Ashton Oldham, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany.

Memorial Chapel, Lancaster Street

Memorial Chapel, Lancaster Street

It was given in memory of Randall J. LeBoeuf, St. Paul’s vestryman from 1914 to 1930, and warden from 1930 until his death in 1939. LeBoeuf (born 1870) was an attorney specializing in banking and corporate law, the founder of the Albany Trust Company (later First Trust Company) and a justice of the New York Supreme Court.

Randall J. LeBoeuf

Randall J. LeBoeuf

Did you notice the brilliant blue glass that surrounds the figures? The Times Union for March 27, 1942 tells us the story of  that glass, which was shipped from England to Boston during World War II:

The first ship carrying the glass was torpedoed in the Atlantic, but was beached and the cargo saved. The glass was placed on another ship which also was torpedoed and again the cargo was reloaded, and this time the glass arrived at its destination. When delivered, the packing case was still wet and on it was painted, “Great Britain Delivers the Goods.”

A small miracle that the glass arrived safely, and that on a Christmas Day almost seventy-five years later it still graces our chapel!


A Merry Greeting on Christmas Day!

On this Christmas morning, a greeting from the only carol written for St. Paul’s Church, Albany. “A Christmas Carol”  was “written for the children of St. Paul’s Church” in 1856 by George William Warren, our organist and choirmaster from 1848 until 1860 and sets verse by our rector, Thomas A. Starkey.

Thomas A. Starkey

Thomas A. Starkey

Geo. Wm. Warren's A Christmas Carol

Geo. Wm. Warren’s A Christmas Carol

Starkey’s words also appear on a song sheet published separately.

Christmas Carol Song Sheet (courtesy Library of Congress)

Christmas Carol Song Sheet (courtesy Library of Congress)

Thirty years later, the song was still sung in Albany. Huybertie Pruyn Hamlin, in her memoir An Albany Girlhood, refers to it as “our favorite carol” in the 1880’s. Writing fifty years later, she still recalled the frosted bells on the cover and the last line of the first verse: “to young and old, to sad and gay, a merry greeting on Christmas Day!”



Christmas Holiday Festival and Bazaar — December 1981

Today, we see another Christmas event conducted by the women of St. Paul’s Church, a Christmas Holiday Festival and Bazaar in December 1981. The photograph appeared in the Albany Times-Union for November 30, 1981. The festival was to open the next morning, December 1, in the the church parish house, with a luncheon at noon and a roast beef dinner that evening.

In the photograph, the women are working on items for the sale.

Christmas Holiday Festival, December 1981

Christmas Holiday Festival, December 1981

Seated are Mrs. Anna Heinrichs and Mrs. Harry Wild.  Standing, left to right, are Mrs. Kenneth Eells [Virginia]] (bazaar co-chairman), Mrs. Roger Aiken [Ruth E. Mitchell], (bazaar co-chairman), Mrs. John N. Grant [Ismena J. Frazer], gift booth chairman. Mrs. Aiken and Mrs. Grant were serving in the same capacities that they had in the Christmas Bazaar twenty years earlier.


Christmas Bazaar — December 1961

The women of St. Paul’s have conducted fairs, sales and festivals since the church’s earliest years, and these benefits have played an important part in the financial support of the church. The first recorded fair was in December 1836: a “Ladies Fair at Stanwix Hall for the benefit of St. Paul’s Church,” at a time when the struggling young parish desperately needed that support. Today, we see photographs of a St. Paul’s Christmas Bazaar published in the Society page of the Albany Times-Union for December 4, 1961.

The first photograph shows three women of the parish “as they prepared luncheon for guests at the church.” As was then the custom, the newspaper gives only their husbands’ names; their first names (in brackets) were obtain from other sources.

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: in the kitchen

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: in the kitchen

Left to right, they were:  Mrs. David Powers [Lucille], Mrs. Shelley Edmundson [Louise], co-chairman of the luncheon, and Mrs. Roger Aiken [Ruth], co-chairman of the Christmas Bazaar.

In the next photo, two women arrange the gifts in Santa’s pack.

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: Santa's Pack

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: Santa’s Pack

They were Mrs. Chas. H. House, Jr. [Merilyn] an Mrs. Harold Green [Maude]

Finally, here is a picture of the gift booth, with Mrs. John N. Grant [Ismena J. Frazer] on the right, assisting Mrs. D. Arthur Leahy [Grete].

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: the gift booth

Christmas Bazaar, December 1961: the gift booth