Category Archives: Clergy

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.

190 Years Ago in the Pearl Street School Room

Richard Bury, Rector 1827-1830

190 years ago this past week, on November 12, 1827, a group of men gathered in a school room in Albany’s South End, organized a new Episcopal congregation to be named “St. Paul’s Church or Congregation in the City of Albany” and elected the congregation’s first vestry. A week later, on November 19, the vestry elected St. Paul’s first rector, Richard Bury. The new congregation had been meeting in that room since the previous summer, gathered there by the Rev. Mr. Bury (previously priest-in-charge at Christ Church, Duanesburg) and two of his friends, Charles Skerritt and John Le Breton.

The first announcement of this event was in the Albany Argus for November 16, 1827:

St. Paul’s Church in the City of Albany – On Monday evening last, the 12th inst[ant] an Episcopal congregation, under the pastoral charge of the Rev. Richard Bury, was duly organised, and designated by the title of “St. Paul’s Church in the City of Albany.”

The wardens and vestry of this congregation intend, as soon as sufficient funds shall have been raised, to erect a church in the south part of this city, for the accommodation of its numerous and increasing population; until which time the services of the church will be conducted in a large and commodious room, to be prepared for this special purpose. They will indulge the hope that in this undertaking, they will be favored with the approbation of their fellow-citizens in general; but particularly with the good will and earnest prayers of those, who having “tasted that the Lord is gracious,” are desirous that others also may be brought to a knowledge of “the truth as it is in Jesus,” and to a participation of the blessedness of those who know the Lord, whom to know is life everlasting.

We next find the formation announced in The Christian Journal and Literary Register, Volume XI, No. 12, Dec 1827, page 376-377, which repeats the second paragraph of the Argus announcement exactly, and credits it to one of St. Paul’s first vestrymen. It then appends another paragraph, this also attributed to the anonymous vestryman:

It affords me peculiar pleasure to add, that it is with feelings of the most unfeigned kindness  towards the congregation of St. Peter’s, and its venerated and truly estimable rector, that the wardens and vestry of St. Paul’s have commenced their operations. This is as it should be for when members of our holy and apostolic church, in the exercise of that Christian love which should always characterize her faithful followers, unite their humble efforts for the extension of her primitive discipline, evangelical doctrines, and inimitable liturgy, may then not hope that He who has built his Church upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, and who has solemnly declared. that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against her,” will crown their undertaking with success, and enable them to “bring forth their top-stone with joy.”

Barent P. Staats, member of 1827 Vestry

Since that beginning, St. Paul’s has owned four buildings in the city, and worshiped in two others (St. Peter’s Church in 1839, and Trinity Church 1964-1966), but this building, where we only stayed from summer 1827 until summer 1829, holds a special place as the congregation’s birthplace. There is some confusion, however, about what sort of school room this was, where it was located and who owned the building.

Many of our sources describe their meeting place as a “school room” on South Ferry Street but are vague on its exact location. One says that it was “below Ferry,” and two specifically place it at the corner of South Pearl and Rensselaer Streets. One also mentions that the school room was in the upper room of the building. Is this a  literal description, or just a reference to the apostles meeting in an upper room In Acts 1:13?

When you think of that school room, don’t picture a cute little red school house, because this seems to have been a very simple old building. In 1827, the city of Albany had no public schools. The first building built as a school in the city (other than the Lancaster School on Eagle Street) was not erected until 1832. This must have been a private school of some kind, using whatever sort of structure was available.

Albany Tax Assessments are available for these years, and they list 158 South Pearl, on the northeast corner of Rensselaer, on the rolls for 1827, 1828 and 1830. In 1827, it was described as “old wood building.” In 1828, when St. Paul’s was using it, it is noted: “at present a place of worship.” In 1830, after St. Paul’s had moved into its new building on Ferry Street, it had reverted to use as a schoolhouse.

Hekzekiah Wells, member of 1827 Vestry

Throughout this period, the building was owned by George Charles, who lived next door. We assume that he plied his trade there, and even with the windows closed against the November chill, the odor of his tannery must have been strong in that school room. There seems, then, to be no doubt that the building in which St. Paul’s was organized was owned by George Charles. But an early (and otherwise very reliable source) tells a different story.

From “Our City Churches – XIV: St Paul’s (Episcopal)” Albany Evening Journal 28 Jan 1871:

The first named committee [authorized “to obtain a room for the temporary use of the congregation”: Bristol Fox, John Nelligar and either Agur or Hezekiah Wells] reported on the following week that Mr. McDougal, the owner of the school house which they then occupied, had offered to repair the building, and put it in a condition suitable for worship for the sum of $230 in advance and $50 annually thereafter, while they continued to occupy it. This offer did not seem to meet with much favor, as they rejected it, and authorized the last named committee [authorized “to secure a lot for erection of a church”: Edward A. Le Breton, Barent P. Staats and Bristol Fox] to treat with Stephen Lush and Mr. Kenyon for the purchase of lots facing on Ferry Street, and finally succeeded in purchasing three lots – two from the former for the sum of $2,500 and one from the latter for the sum of $500, in the following spring.

Agur Wells, member of 1827 Vestry

This Mr. McDougal must be John W. McDougal who was also a member of St. Paul’s first vestry. It would certainly make sense that the congregation would use a building owned by one of the organizers. If McDougal did own the building, and was, as the article claims, rejected in his offer of a long-term lease of the building, this might explain why, after this mention, he disappears completely from church records.

So, while can be certain about the school room’s location, we are left with a mystery concerning it’s ownership. The Albany Evening Journal account has the ring of truth, and may help us understand why Mr. McDougal left the church immediately after it was formed. But the tax assessments are very strong evidence that the old wood buidling was owned by George Charles.

From St. Paul’s Church to San Quentin: the Life of William Henry Hill

William Ingraham Kip (portrait attributed to Asa Weston Twitchell )

In his first decade as rector of St. Paul’s, William Ingraham Kip saw three young man enter the ministry from the congregation. We have already spoken of Sylvanus Reed, but the first of these three was William Henry Hill, who was not only an active member of the congregation, but also followed Kip to California. How Hill came to serve eight years at San Quentin Prison is only one of the fascinating things about this son of St. Paul’s Church.

William H. Hill was born in Connecticut in 1816, and came to Albany at age 15. He became a communicant of St. Paul’s in 1839, shortly after Kip arrived here as rector. Hill was soon busy in the life of the parish, particularly as “chorister” (then used to mean the leader of the church choir) intermittently from 1841 until 1845, while the organist was composer Oliver J. Shaw. He also represented the congregation at diocesan conventions in 1844 (during the contentious discussion of the fate of disgraced Bishop Benjamin T. Onderdonk) and again in 1846. During this period, he worked as a reporter and assistant editor for the Albany Evening Journal, owned and edited by the powerful Whig politician Thurlow Weed.

William Henry Hill

William H. Hill became a candidate for ordination in 1844, and was ordained deacon in 1846 and priest the next year. His first pastoral assignment was St. Paul’s, Brownville (Jefferson County, New York), where he served from 1846 until 1851. Interestingly, the Brownville church’s first rector was William Linn Keese, who was also the second rector of St. Paul’s, Albany. William H. Hill was then rector at Zion Church, Morris (Otsego County, New York) from 1851 until 1855.

California Clipper advertisement (image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

William Ingraham Kip was elected Missionary Bishop of California in late 1853. A year later, William H. Hill followed him to the far distant west, which was still in the throes of the Gold Rush of 1849—1855.

Nevada City, California about 1856 (image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Initially he served the church in Nevada City, and next was rector of Grace Church, Sacramento (where he also served several terms as superintendent of the city schools) from 1856 until 1871. His final parish assignment was at St. Athanasius, Los Angeles from approximately 1871 until 1878.

 

 

 

 

William H. Hill (San Francisco Chronicle 28 Oct 1896)

Have you been worrying about how Hill came to serve time at San Quentin? Well, you can relax, because he was definitely on the right side of the bars. William H. Hill was chaplain at San Quentin from 1878 until 1885. After a few years as a traveling missionary, he retired to Berkeley, where he died in 1896.

San Quentin Prison (image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 

 

 

Creighton R. Storey and the Trinity Institution

If you’ve ever driven down Third Avenue on Albany’s South End you may have noticed a group of subsidized houses known as the Creighton Storey Homes. Who was Creighton Storey and how did he come to be honored in this way? The answer tells us something of the Albany Diocese’s history in social services, and (you shouldn’t be surprised to learn) touches significantly on the history of St. Paul’s Church.

Creighton Storey Homes

Creighton Storey Homes

Creighton Richard Storey was born in Ireland in 1864, and came to this country as a teenager. He attended Colgate College and then Hamilton Theological Seminary. Although as a boy he had been confirmed in the Church of Ireland (a member of the Anglican Communion), he chose to become a Baptist pastor, and served congregations in Syracuse, Kingston and Buffalo. Through these years, he came to understand his ministry as service to those both within and outside the church. In each city, he established social service programs. But there were objections to Storey’s concentration on outsiders: he resigned his positions in Baptist churches in Kingston and Buffalo when church leaders insisted that he stop these “outside” activities.

Creighton R. Storey

Creighton R. Storey

First Baptist Church, Albany (credit: Albany Group Archive)

First Baptist Church, Albany (credit: Albany Group Archive)

After resigning the position in Buffalo, Storey had trouble finding another post because of his reputation for concentrating on social work. He finally accepted a position at First Baptist in Albany, then very much down on its luck, with a handful members and unable to even promise him a salary. In response to the Panic of 1907, he started providing a free breakfast to the unemployed in the church basement.

Albany Industrial Brotherhood Flyer, page 1 (credit: NYS Manuscripts and Special Collections)

Albany Industrial Brotherhood Flyer, page 1 (credit: NYS Manuscripts and Special Collections)

A year later, Storey organized the Albany Industrial Brotherhood, housed in a building next door to the church and dedicated “to helping men help themselves.” Services included assistance in finding jobs, and a workshop making wire implements such as rug beaters and kettle forks. From the beginning, Storey seems to have been successful in attracting support from different churches, and involving influential young business men to serve on his board and committees. Over the next years, the Brotherhood’s services were extended to include night classes to teach trades, and providing employment in chair caning and upholstery workshops.

But the pattern in Kingston and Buffalo was repeated: when First Baptist decided to sell their building and move to a new building on Delaware Avenue, Storey was asked to come with them, but only if he was willing to abandon his social services programs. Storey resigned his post at First Baptist in early 1911, saying farewell to both that congregation and “to the pulpit altogether” in order, he said,“to devote his entire attention to brotherhood and settlement work”. He initially planned to expand the Brotherhood into a full social services agency, providing services for the entire family. To accomplish this, he had begun negotiations to purchase First Baptist’s building. Storey had an option on the building and (backed by “a number of influential men”) had until March 9 to raise funds.

For unknown reasons, these plans failed, and Storey looked for another way to support his programs. Knowing that Trinity Church in Albany was

William Croswell Doane, Bishop of Albany (courtesy Library of Congress)

William Croswell Doane, Bishop of Albany (courtesy Library of Congress)

in serious financial difficulties, he spoke with the Albany Episcopal diocesan bishop, William Croswell Doane (an early supporter of the Brotherhood), and volunteered to serve as Trinity’s rector, with the understanding that he would be able to continue the social service programs previously supported by First Baptist. Doane agreed, and convinced the city’s Episcopal churches to contribute $1,000 a year for his programs.

 

In April 1911, within a few months of his resignation from First Baptist, Storey’s entire family was confirmed at St. Paul’s, and that spring and summer Storey preached at St. Paul’s as well as St. Mark’s Chapel (St. Paul’s free chapel just off of Morton Avenue). In November of 1911, Creighton Storey was ordained to the deaconate, with the support of St. Paul’s vestry. By July of 1912, he had been named rector of Trinity Church, and had plans for hiring a full-time social worker and creating a full program of services.

Trinity Institution in 1937 (credit: Pruyn Collection, Albany Public Library)

Trinity Institution in 1937 (credit: Pruyn Collection, Albany Public Library)

Over the next 28 years, Creighton Storey offered a wide range of social services and a thriving summer camp. In 1928 these services included hot lunches for school children (charge: 3 cents for those able to pay), a boys club, scout troop, Jewish scout troop, girl scout troop, a mothers club, a sewing club, two kindergartens and an Americanization class. The Trinity Institution building also included space for neighborhood groups, an Albany Public Library branch and an employment bureau.

Children enjoying the 3-cent lunch (Albany Evening News 25 Jan 1927)

Children enjoying the 3-cent lunch (Albany Evening News 25 Jan 1927)

 

As with the Industrial Brotherhood, Storey continued to include

Albany Evening News 15 Dec 1916

Albany Evening News 15 Dec 1916

prominent young business men on Trinity Institution board of directors. These “Albany Blue Bloods” provided financial backing for the enterprise, but as importantly, served to publicize the Institution’s work.

St. Paul’s involvement did not end with Storey’s ordination: St. Paul’s vestrymen served on the Trinity Institution’s board, the women of St. Paul’s St. Margaret’s Guild provided the hot lunch program on day each week, and the church regularly raised funds for the Institution’s summer camp. Among those “Blue Blood” board members was Randall J. LeBoeuf, Jr., whose father,  Randall J. LeBoeuf, was a St. Paul’s warden. And another of our own, Elsa Ridgway, was on the Trinity staff from 1920 until 1947, most of that time as Director of programs for girls and women. Miss Ridgway was a life-long member of St. Paul’s, and president of the Altar Guild and Women’s Auxiliary. Her father was Frederick W. Ridgway Sr., St. Paul’s vestryman from 1901 until 1915; she was the sister of Frederick W. Ridgway Jr., the sister-in-law of our organist and choirmaster, T.F.H. Candlyn and aunt of Donald Shore Candlyn.

Trinity Institution Annual Report for 1930 (credit: Pruyn Collection, Albany Public Library)

Trinity Institution Annual Report for 1930 (credit: Pruyn Collection, Albany Public Library)

Creighton Storey was to be Trinity’s rector from 1912 until his death in 1930, overseeing a revival of the congregation in that period. More importantly, he created the Trinity Institution (often referred to as the Trinity Institute, and now known as the Trinity Alliance), which for almost 100 years now has been helping the people of the South End. The Trinity Alliance and the Creighton Storey Homes serve as important reminders of our church’s and our diocese’s outreach to Albany’s South End.

 

The Flora Myers Brady Gavit Memorial Organ

St. Paul’s worshiped in the building on Lancaster Street for a century, and we tend now to think of that building, through the haze of memory and legend, as our ideal church home. But even at its purchase in 1862, the building was considered a compromise. A few years before, in 1860 – 61, the congregation (then housed in a former theater on South Pearl Street) had decided to move into the newly-opened western part of the city. The vestry negotiated the purchase of property for a new church, hired an architect, and offered the old church for sale. Those plans were dashed by the bank failures of May 1861. William Rudder, St. Paul’s rector from 1859 until 1863, describes the crisis, and its solution:

But being now, as it were, without shelter, it was necessary at once to find some place of worship. It so happened that the authorities of a Dutch Reformed Congregation were engaged in building a house of worship at this time; but they, too, were brought to a stand by the financial problems of which I have spoken, and the unfinished building was offered for sale. Your vestry felt that, under the peculiar circumstances in which they were placed, they could not do better than purchase this building. They did so, and adding a chancel, endeavored to make it as churchlike in appearance as possible, and suitable to the requirements of our worship.[i]

William Rudder

William Rudder

John Henry Van Antwerp

John Henry Van Antwerp

The vestry’s and Rudder’s lack of enthusiasm is palpable. But the vestry purchased the Dudley Reformed Church on Lancaster Street in May 1862 with financing arranged by junior warden John H. Van Antwerp, cashier of the New York State Bank. The congregation held the first service there in September of that year.

St. Paul's, Late 19th century

St. Paul’s, Late 19th century

Yet only fifteen years later, at the congregation’s fiftieth anniversary celebration in 1877, Rudder asked if perhaps the congregation was ready to take up the 1861 vestry’s goal “to build a new church edifice in a better and more advantageous situation.” and to erect a building “worthy of the position and resources of the parish.” [ii] If they did so, he encouraged the 1877 vestry to “[s]how forth the largeness of your Christian zeal and love by the extent and richness, the trust and perfection of your work.”[iii]

The congregation chose not to take up Rudder’s challenge, but they could not ignore the Lancaster Street building’s deficiencies, chief among which was the design of the chancel. While Rudder and the 1861 vestry had attempted to make the nave “as churchlike in appearance as possible,” the chancel they had added was recognized as inadequate. In 1902, the year of the parish’s 75th anniversary, our rector William Prall suggested five improvements necessary for the survival of the parish, two of them related to problem with the chancel: to remodel the chancel and bring the choir to the east end of church “where it properly belongs.”[iv]

William Prall

William Prall

Prall was unable able to accomplish these goals during his term as rector from 1900 to 1905, but they were taken up by his successor, Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks, who arrived in the spring of 1906. As a start, Brooks recommended improvements to the church building including the chancel. That fall, he appealed “to the congregation, urging them to repair and beautify their church by memorial gifts.”[v]

Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks

Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks

By the parish’s 80th anniversary in November 1907, Brooks had already accomplished much of this beautification, including Prall’s recommendation to remodel the chancel:

Since then [the appeal of autumn 1906] two windows had been put in place, two were now being constructed, a baptistery had been erected, the chancel enlarged, the organ reconstructed, two tablets had been erected and the credence table rebuilt. Meantime the Sunday-school had doubled its offerings for missions, the parish had met its apportionment and had also made various gifts for charities.[vi]

St. Paul's Chancel before 1901

St. Paul’s Chancel before 1901

St. Paul's Chancel in 1911

St. Paul’s Chancel in 1911

We do not know how the organ was “reconstructed,” but whatever improvements were made could not hide that fact that it was 74 years old. Brooks must have hoped that the church could afford a new organ to complete the restoration. The organ in use in 1907 was only St. Paul’s second, purchased in 1841, shortly after the congregation moved to the Pearl Street theater. Originally built by Thomas Robjohn (under contract with Firth & Hall of New York City), the instrument was rebuilt in 1857 by William A. Johnson, with the upgraded instrument inaugurated on Christmas Day 1857. Johnson also moved the instrument to Lancaster Street in 1864. William J. Stuart of Albany made major enhancements in 1892, including a new manual, pedal, chest, couplers and combination pedals, but by 1907 it must have been a very old looking (and sounding) organ. Brooks had plans for major enhancements to the church’s liturgy and worship space, including the creation of a boys’ choir, and moving the organ to the renovated chancel. He had the new chancel: a new organ would fit with these plans very nicely!

Years passed, and Brooks must have thought about who was capable of buying the church a new organ. His leading candidate would have been the wealthiest member of the congregation, Marcia Ann Myers Brady, who was already a major donor. Mrs. Brady had been a member of the congregation since 1872, and she raised their six children in the church. Her daughter Flora was baptized at St. Paul’s in 1879, attended our Sunday School and was married to E. Palmer Gavit by Dr. Prall, in 1901. Mrs. Brady’s other daughter, Marcia, was married to Carll Tucker at St. Paul’s in 1908.

Marcia Ann Myers Brady

Marcia Ann Myers Brady

Marcia Ann Myers Brady’s husband, Anthony N. Brady, was a practicing Roman Catholic who may never have seen the interior of St. Paul’s. Mr. Brady had started as a small businessman in Troy and Albany, but by the first decade of the twentieth century he had accumulated an immense fortune by investing in utilities and public transportation across the country. The firms he founded are the direct predecessors of such corporate giants as Consolidated Edison and Union Carbide, among others.

Tragedy struck Marcia Ann Myers Brady’s family in October 1912, when her daughter Flora died at age 35 in a fiery train wreck that also killed her sister-in-law and sister-in-law’s sister. Then a year later, Marcia Brady’s husband died, leaving an estate of over $72 million dollars, which in that period in New York was second only to that of John Jacob Astor.

Flora Myers Brady Gavit

Flora Myers Brady Gavit

This enormous fortune was divided between Marcia, her surviving children, and her namesake, Flora’s daughter Marcia Ann Gavit, age 6. Responding to Brooks’ desire for a new organ, Mrs. Brady chose to make a double gift to the church: $14,000 to cover the entire cost of a new organ, and $20,000 to the Flora Myers Brady Gavit Memorial Organ Endowment Fund,  its “[i]ncome to be used, one-half for the maintenance of [the] organ, and one-half to create a fund for the installation of a new organ when such shall be required.”

The new instrument was dedicated on Palm Sunday, March 28, 1915. Built by the Hutchings Organ Company of Boston, it was a three-manual electric organ, with thirty-five speaking stops, nine couplers, two tremolos and a set of chimes.

Program, Service of Dedication for Gavit Memorial Organ

Program, Service of Dedication for Gavit Memorial Organ

The Flora Myers Brady Gavit Memorial Organ

The Flora Myers Brady Gavit Memorial Organ

Plaque for Gavit Memorial Organ

Plaque for Gavit Memorial Organ

This was not the end of the Brady family’s generosity. After Marcia Ann Myers Brady’s death in 1921, her children, son-in-law (E. Palmer Gavit) and granddaughter (Marcia Ann Gavit) established a $60,000 trust in her name, with “the income to be used as the result of an expressed wish of Mrs. Brady to perpetuate the gifts she was accustomed to make during her lifetime for the support of the Parish.”

The Flora Myers Brady Gavit Memorial Organ Endowment Fund  continued to fund repairs and enhancements the Flora Myers Brady Gavit organ over the next fifty years. The 1915 instrument was first rebuilt in 1940 by Ernest M. Skinner & Son of Methuen MA, with guidance from our organist and choirmaster, T. Frederik H. Candlyn. The official opening of the “rebuilt and enlarged Flora Myers Brady Gavit Memorial Organ” was held on September 15, 1940. The enhancements included a new console with “modern electrical mechanism,” new stops (4 on the great, 5 on the swell, 4 on the choir and 5 on the pedal) and a new organ loft. “Many readjustments have likewise been made in the older organ to improve its speaking quality and tone.”[vii]

Program, Reopening of Rebuilt and Enlarge Gavit Organ 1940

Program, Reopening of Rebuilt and Enlarge Gavit Organ 1940

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

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

The organ was again rebuilt “with tonal changes” by the M.P. Möller company in 1952. At that time, the organ was described as having 3 manuals, 4 divisions. 46 stops, 35 registers, 38 ranks and 2,521 pipes.[viii]

Only a dozen years later, New York State took the Lancaster Street building as part of the 98 acres needed to build the South Mall, now known as the Empire State Plaza. Any items not removed by the congregation before they left the building became State property The people of St. Paul’s had to make some difficult decisions about what could be taken and used in their new building, and the organ was one of those items left behind.

By early 1964, the vestry decided to purchase an organ by Casavant Frères for the new church on Hackett Boulevard, and to allow the State to sell the 1915 organ. Clarence Hollister (St. Paul’s organist and choirmaster from 1955 until 1967) estimated the old organ’s value at $60,000, but said that St. Paul’s had received an estimate of $32,000 to recondition it. Hollister’s opinion was that “I can’t see putting $32,000 into an old organ, which I’m not particularly fond of anyway.”[ix] One wonders how the organ could have deteriorated that much in the twelve years since the 1952 M.P. Möller revisions. It seems more likely that its deficiencies were a matter of changing styles in organ sound rather than actual deterioration.

Clarence Hollister at St. Paul's Organ

Clarence Hollister at St. Paul’s Organ

On June 3, 1964 the State issued a “Prospectus for the sale of organ at St. Paul’s church,” containing specification #CB639 for a “Three manual Hook & Hastings Organ with additions by Ernest M. Skinner.”[x] In July 1964, it was purchased by Christ Church (Episcopal) in Schenectady for the sum of $2,060.[xi]

More than a century after it was founded, the Flora Myers Brady Gavit Memorial Organ Funds continue to pay for maintenance of the Casavant organ. The funds, now known as the Gavit Organ Replacement and Gavit Organ Maintenance Fund, paid for a major repair only a few years ago, when organ pipes were beginning to lean precariously over the tenors and basses in the choir’s back row. We hope that Mrs. Brady would have approved.

Pipework for St. Paul's Casavant Frères Organ

Pipework for St. Paul’s Casavant Frères Organ (photo credit: Amy van den Broek)

[i] “Sermon of the Rev. William Rudder, D.D.,” in The Semi-centennial  Services of St. Paul’s Church, Albany, N.Y. (Albany: The Argus Company, 1877), 37.

[ii] “Sermon of the Rev. William Rudder, D.D.,” 36.

[iii] “Sermon of the Rev. William Rudder, D.D.,” 40-41.

[iv] “Past, Present and Future: a Sermon Preached January 26, 1902 in Commemoration of the Seventy-Fifth Anniversary of the Founding of the Parish of St. Paul’s, Albany, N.Y. by the Rev. William Prall, D.D., Ph.D. Rector” (Albany: Weed-Parsons Printing Co., n.d.), page 17.

[v] “Tablet Unveiled in St. Paul’s, Albany N.Y.,” The Churchman 26 Oct 1907, volume 96, number 16, page 649.

[vi] “Tablet Unveiled in St. Paul’s, Albany N.Y.”.

[vii] “Service of Dedication: Flory Myers Brady Gavit Memorial Organ in in Saint Paul’s Church, Albany, New York” Archives of St. Paul’s Church.

[viii] OHS Database http://www.organsociety.org/database/SingleOrganDetails.php?OrganID=49048 retrieved 31 Oct 2016.

[ix] Albany Times-Union 21 Jun 1964.

[x] Office of General Services, Office of South Mall, South Mall Project Site Acquisition and Clearance Files. New York State Archives, 16209-91, folder “Demolition – St. Paul’s Church.”

[xi] Schenectady Gazette 09 Jul 1964.

Architect’s Model of the Hackett Boulevard Building

We have already seen two color slides of the architect’s model of the Hackett Boulevard church. Through the generosity of a former parishioner, we now have three additional photographs of the model as it was displayed to the congregation following Sunday services, probably in 1963.

In the first photograph we see Kenneth Eells, chairman of the building committee on the left, and the rector, Father J. Raymond McWilliam, on the right. Can anyone tell us who the two women in the middle are?

Architect's Model of the Hackett Boulevard building. Kenneth Eells (left) and J. Raymond McWilliam (right)

Architect’s Model of the Hackett Boulevard building. Kenneth Eells (left) and J. Raymond McWilliam (right)

Architect's Model of the Hackett Boulevard building

Architect’s Model of the Hackett Boulevard building

Architect's Model of the Hackett Boulevard building

Architect’s Model of the Hackett Boulevard building

 

 

 

 

 

“Te Deum laudamus”: The Nelson F. Parke Memorial Window

Te Deum laudamus, St. Paul's Chapel

Te Deum laudamus, St. Paul’s Chapel

Last month marked the fiftieth anniversary of the first Holy Communion service in the chapel on Hackett Boulevard. The chapel was designed to replicate a 1940s-era memorial chapel in the Lancaster Street church building, using the older building’s memorial windows and furniture. The new chapel even uses the communion rail from the main Lancaster Street chancel.

Chapel, Hackett Boulevard

Chapel, Hackett Boulevard

Only one new window was created for the new Hackett Boulevard chapel: the window named “Te Deum laudamus” behind the altar. It takes its name from the early Christian hymn of that name, and its donor describes it thus, mirroring the text of the hymn: “The group of figures includes saints, apostles, prophets, martyrs, and figures representing the Holy Church throughout all the world, all praising God.” The donor was William Starr McEwan, St. Paul’s vestryman, treasurer of the Hackett Boulevard building fund, and the McEwan for whom our parish hall is named. McEwan gave the window in memory of the Reverend Nelson Fremont Parke, St. Paul’s rector from July 1959 until his death in November 1962.

Nelson F. Parke (image courtesy Mrs. Nancy Grayson Knapp)

Nelson F. Parke (image courtesy Mrs. Nancy Grayson Knapp)

While Nelson Parke was rector here for only a little more than three years, his influence will long be felt, because it was his enthusiasm and leadership that held St. Paul’s family together in a difficult period, and and it was his powers of persuasion that convinced the State that St. Paul’s Lancaster Street building was of particular value.

St. Paul’s was not a strong parish in 1959. Changes in the neighborhood and flight to the suburbs had reduced the size of the congregation and its income, and since 1954 they had been unable to support a rector. Just a year before, the outlook was so grim that Bishop Frederick L. Barry advised the vestry that calling a new rector was “unthinkable,” and suggesting a choice between merging with another parish, or continuing as before, with a priest-in-charge, while considering other options.

Bishop Frederick L. Barry

Bishop Frederick L. Barry

Father Parke supervises painting [Times Union 9 Jul 1960]

Father Parke supervises painting [Times Union 9 Jul 1960]

The vestry chose to call Father Parke. Nelson Parke brought energy to St. Paul’s. In 1960, they painted the buff brick of the church façade white, with gray trim, in an effort to brighten the down-at-the-heels neighborhood.

In January 1962, the Temporary State Commission for the Capital City, which was planning urban renewal for the Capital District recommended that “the focus of state government be returned to downtown Albany.” Two months later, on March 27, 1962 they announced that the State would take 98.5 acres of downtown Albany by eminent domain for the South Mall. St. Paul’s Church was in the middle of this “take area.”

St. Paul's, freshly painted, about 1962

St. Paul’s, freshly painted, about 1962

In early comments on the situation, Father Parke suggested that St. Paul’s might be spared. On two occasions in early spring 1962, he quoted the Commission’s chairman, Lt. Governor Malcolm Wilson, as saying that there was a possibility the church would be allowed to remain. Leaning on this slender hope (Wilson never publicly made such a statement), Parke pushed for the concept of St. Paul’s remaining in the South Mall. In a May 15 letter to Lt. Governor Wilson he wrote, “We can envisage this white church, appropriately floodlighted, surrounded by lawns and gardens looming large in the middle of the Complex, as a spiritual and aesthetic center in the midst of the new State Buildings.” Parke also encouraged the congregation to “work to keep up our property, maintain it to the best of our ability and press forward in our ministry to those who will find a spiritual home in old St. Paul’s.” Parke closed this letter with another argument, this one more light-hearted:

“We notice that the excellent Telephone Company is to be left in the Mall area. May we suggest, perhaps not too seriously, that if this admirable institution which provides for the communication of man to man is left – St. Paul’s might well be left to provide a system whereby man might communicate with his maker.”

Through the summer of 1962, the congregation waited hopefully for a response from the State. As Parke suggested, they continued to maintain and improve the building, including a major renovation to the church kitchen.

Te Deum laudamus: Christ the King and the Trinity

Te Deum laudamus: Christ the King and the Trinity

The State’s response was to come in a September 12 meeting with William F. Meyers, Assistant Commissioner of Housing. As related in a September 8, 1962 Knickerbocker News article, “Mr. Mayers [sic] said the talks would be merely fact-finding discussions to sound out the feelings of the two congregations. He said that at this point, as far as he knew, all buildings in the South Mall area were slated for demolition but, he added: ‘We will have a better insight into what may happen when the planners complete their work.’” In the same article, Father Parke continued to express hope for St. Paul’s Church-in-the-Green concept, suggesting that “its Romanesque architecture might ‘lend color, among the modern buildings in the South Mall.’”

But at the September 12 meeting, Meyers shut down all of St. Paul’s hopes for staying in the Lancaster Street building, and all but closed off the possibility of relocation within the South Mall area. As Parke summarized the meeting, Meyers

“told us quite bluntly that plans for the South Mall in the block bounded by Lancaster, Hawk, Jay, and Swan Streets were such that the continued existence of the Church at its present location was entirely impossible, that the demolition of the Church was inevitable, that we would have only three years in our edifice before it was torn down, and that the possibility of our being able to relocated in the South Mall area was extremely remote.”

The plans to which Meyers referred may be the placement of the Central Air Conditioning Plant and Main Transformer Vault between Chestnut and Jay streets, an area that included the church site. Once the planners made that decision, there was no hope for St. Paul’s to remain on Lancaster Street.

Te Deum Laudamus: Moses, Saints. Stephen, Peter, Paul, Catherine of Alexandria and Isaiah

Te Deum Laudamus: Moses, Saints. Stephen, Peter, Paul, Catherine of Alexandria and Isaiah

By early the next week, internal memos in the governor’s office show the level of anger and frustration from St. Paul’s warden and vestry. Governor Rockefeller’s administrative assistant suggested that Parke write directly to the governor. But that same week, within a few days after the meeting, Father Parke fell ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized at Saratoga Hospital. This fact was known by the Governor’s administrative assistant, who wrote in a memo to Lt. Governor Wilson that “Mr. Parke has been hospitalized recently but is now apparently picking up the cudgels again.”

Te Deum Laudamus: Augustine of Canterbury, Joan of Arc, Saint Chrysostom and Saint George

Te Deum Laudamus: Augustine of Canterbury, Joan of Arc, Saint Chrysostom and Saint George

On September 27, St. Paul’s church secretary, Nancy Knapp, was driven to Saratoga to take dictation from Father Parke. In his letter to Governor Rockefeller, Parke wrote:

“This then, Governor Rockefeller, is a prayerful plea to you that our Church be saved from demolition. We ask it because of its historic value as a building which will be 100 years old on next November 2 – because of its great beauty, particularly in more than 20 stained glass windows, not capable of replacement and not exceeded in magnificence in Albany – because we can offer a place of rest, meditation, and prayer to the thousands of State Workers of all denominations in the Mall (as Trinity Church does to those employed in the Wall Street Area) – and because, most importantly, with the passing of the Greek Orthodox and First Methodist Churches, ours then would be in the 98 acres of the South Mall the only House of God.”

That same evening, St. Paul’s vestry met in a special session, with Bishop Allen W. Brown as a guest. There were only two items on the agenda: arranging for substitute clergy during Mr. Parke’s absence, and determining a site for relocating St. Paul’s. At the conclusion of the meeting, “[t]he Vestry voted to go on record as in expression [sic] our intent of joining with the diocese in the purchase of the 4 acre site adjacent to the Good Samaritan Center for the purpose of construction and relocation of a new church for St. Paul’s Parish.”

It is apparent that Nelson Parke wanted to return to work. In an October 2 letter to the parish “from the rector’s temporary study (at Saratoga Hospital)” he wrote:

“My doctor has advised that I am coming along nicely with only rest stipulated before I am allowed to get back into harness. It is my understanding that our Wardens, Mr. Eckel and Mr. Foskett, have joined with my doctor to enforce this stipulation by having made arrangements for substitute priests for the next few weeks. This leaves me no choice.”

In this letter, Parke gives a summary of the September 12 meeting, and the vestry’s decision (with his full approval) to join the diocese in taking an option on the Hackett Boulevard property. As always, he expresses full confidence in St. Paul’s ability to thrive in this new location.

Te Deum laudamus: Mary and St. John

Te Deum laudamus: Mary and St. John

The letter was to be one the last acts by Father Parke as rector. On October 17, 1962, Bishop Brown announced that Parke would take a leave of absence until January 1, 1963. Nelson Parke and wife went to Florida, where he maintained at least weekly contact with the church, eager to return. But on November 9 he died of a heart attack. His funeral was held at St. Paul’s on November 15, 1962.

Father Nelson Parke played a particularly important role in his brief period at St. Paul’s, by invigorating a parish at its low ebb, by maintaining the congregation’s positive spirit in the face of the State’s plan to demolish our building, and by eloquently arguing for the importance of our presence in the the South Mall area. When the Lancaster Street building was demolished in 1964, the parish was far stronger than it would have been without him. And his advocacy for the building’s architectural and artistic merits resulted in a reimbursement from the State far higher than any other church in the South Mall area. The Te Deum window is an appropriate memorial to this good man.

Te Deum laudamus, St. Paul's Chapel

Te Deum laudamus, St. Paul’s Chapel