Category Archives: Hackett Blvd Building

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.”

The Windows of St. Paul’s: The Baptism of our Lord

Last Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of our Lord. St. Paul’s has had two windows depicting the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, and I’d like to tell you about both of them.

We saw the first depiction in an earlier post, because it is a section of the window donated by Donald Shore Candlyn. This window was originally installed in the Memorial Chapel on Lancaster Street, and moved to the chapel in the Hackett Boulevard building in 1966. Like all the chapel windows, it was designed and built by the Wilbur H. Burnham Studios of Boston. This section is titled “The Baptism of Christ,” and a pamphlet on the windows by William S. McEwan refers to the account in Mark 1:9-11.

“The Baptism of Christ.” in St. Paul’s Chapel

The other window was originally installed in the nave of the Lancaster Street church. It was donated by “a large number of persons who received the Rite of Holy Baptism in St. Paul’s Parish,” and dedicated on Palm Sunday 1914. This donation was probably one response to the 1906 appeal of our rector, Roelif Hasbrouck Brooks to the congregation “to repair and beautify their church by memorial gifts.” Titled “The Baptism of Christ,” it was designed by Frederick Stymetz Lamb, and built by the Studios of J. and R. Lamb, New York City.

 

“Baptism of Chris”

 

 

Detail, “Baptism of Christ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This window, along with nine other windows from the Lancaster Street nave, was brought to the Hackett Boulevard church in 1966, and installed in the narthex.  In the photograph below, you can see “Baptism of Christ” in the lower right corner.

Early photograph of the Hackett Boulevard narthex, with stained glass windows.

These windows remained in the Hackett Boulevard narthex until about 2005, when the deteriorating condition of the window supports forced our vestry to sell the windows and replace them with new glass. All ten windows are now in the collection of Lawrence R. Gelman and beginning in 2018 will be displayed in his Stained Glass Museum in San Juan, Texas.

 

Easter 1967

On this Easter morning we share two slides taken on Easter Sunday fifty years ago, March 26, 1967.

Easter Sunday 1967

Easter Sunday 1967

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here are four undated photographs, mostly likely from Easter, and possibly also from Easter Sunday 1967. The rector, J. Raymond McWilliam, is clearly visible. Does anyone recognize the server or the other priest?

Altar, possibly Easter 1967

Altar detail, possibly Easter 1967

Procession, possibly Easter 1967

Altar party, possibly Easter 1967

 

 

 

 

Palm Sunday 1967

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. Today we share five slides taken fifty years ago, on Palm Sunday 1967, the congregation’s first Palm Sunday in the new building. The high altar had been consecrated on Maundy Thursday of the previous year.

The first slide shows the nave, at the beginning of the service.

Palm Sunday 1967

Then we see two servers at the rear of the nave preparing for the procession. Can anyone tell us who these two are, or identify the chorister just behind them?

Palm Sunday 1967

Next, we see the rector,  J. Raymond McWilliam, reading the gospel from the liturgical north end of the altar, as was then the custom.

Palm Sunday 1967

The final two slides show Father McWilliam receiving the offering. We have been able to identify only two others in these shots: of the men facing the altar, the two on the left are Herb Brown and Jim White. Can anyone identify others in the pictures?

Palm Sunday 1967

Palm Sunday 1967

 

Child’s Hospital and the Good Samaritan Center

DSC_0141

St. Paul’s current building, at the corner of Samaritan Road and Hackett Boulevard

For the past 51 years, St. Paul’s address has been 21 Hackett Boulevard, at the corner of an inconspicuous street called Samaritan Road. Samaritan Road is not much to look at now, but its name is the last reminder of the Good Samaritan Center, a group of Diocese of Albany institutions that once clustered along it.

Between 1966 (when the Hackett Boulevard church was completed) and 1999, our building was paired with Child’s Hospital, the two buildings balanced on either side of Samaritan Road. When ground was broken for our building on July 26, 1964, you can see the then-new Child’s Hospital building directly to the west.

Groundbreaking at Hackett Boulevard, 26 July 1964

Groundbreaking at Hackett Boulevard, 26 July 1964

To understand the significance of the hospital and the entire Center, however, we need to look farther back, because in many ways, the Good Samaritan Center was the recreation of an earlier complex of diocesan institutions created in the late 19th century by Bishop William Crosswell Doane on Elk Street near the Cathedral of All Saints.

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

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

The Elk Street complex represented Bishop Doane’s plan for a cathedral with ancillary “institutions of learning and mercy that will gather about it.” This outgrowth of the social gospel was similar to the way in which his father, Bishop George Washington Doane, had surrounded his cathedral in Burlington, New Jersey with a group of institutions concerned with education and health care, particularly for the needy.

Child's Hospital Elk Street (credit: Albany Public Library Pruyn Collection)

Child’s Hospital Elk Street (credit: Albany Public Library Pruyn Collection)

The Elk street institutions were incorporated in 1871 as “the Trustees of the Corning Foundation for Educational and other Christian Work.” The corporation’s goals were “the establishment, maintenance and management in the City of Albany of a school or schools, and other educational, religious, and charitable works and institutions, with a church or chapel and other convenient buildings in connection therewith; the same to be maintained and conducted in accordance with the doctrines, discipline and worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church in said Diocese of Albany.”

Child's Hospital Elk Street

Child’s Hospital Elk Street

Child’s Hospital’s name requires some explanation. You might reasonably think it was called Child’s because most of its clients were children, but that is not the case. Nor was it named for a wealthy Mr. or Mrs. Child who endowed it. No, Child’s Hospital was named for the order of Episcopal nuns who ran it from 1874 until 1949.

Mother Helen Dunham, Mother Superior of the Sisterhood of the Holy Child Jesus

Mother Helen Dunham, Mother Superior of the Sisterhood of the Holy Child Jesus

The Sisterhood of the Holy Child Jesus was founded by Doane and Helen Dunham in 1873. Its constitution included this description of its goals: “The objects of the Sisterhood are to provide for the care of the sick, and the sound training and teaching of children, and as God shall give the means and the opportunity, to undertake such other works of charity and mercy, as our hands shall find to do.”

The institutions that they managed on Elk Street near the cathedral were St. Agnes School (founded 1870), Child’s Hospital (founded 1874) and St. Margaret’s House for Babies (founded 1883). All of these institutions were located on the north side of Elk Street, between Hawk and Swan.

Elk Street Diocesan Institutions in 1892

Elk Street Diocesan Institutions in 1892

When it was founded, Child’s Hospital was the only hospital for children between New York, Montreal, Boston and Buffalo. While it was affiliated with the Episcopal diocese, Child’s services were offered without regard to religious affiliation, and many services were offered free of charge. In addition to routine patients, Child’s Hospital also served children who needed long-term care for chronic conditions.

Child's Hospital Elk Street (credit: Albany Group Archive)

Child’s Hospital Elk Street (credit: Albany Group Archive)

Child's Hospital Elk Street (credit: Albany Public Library Pruyn Collection)

Child’s Hospital Elk Street (credit: Albany Public Library Pruyn Collection)

If you grew up in Albany and remember the old Child’s Hospital, you probably also remember why you (or a sibling) were there. For Albany children in the first half of the twentieth century, Child’s Hospital was the place for tonsillectomy. In 1950, Child’s set a tonsil-pulling record: 102 pairs in a single month.

The Sisters’ trio of institutions on the corner of Elk and Hawk began to break up in the 1930s. In 1932, with several of the buildings threatening to slide down into Sheridan Hollow, the diocese offered to sell all three buildings to the State. The State declined that offer, but St. Agnes’ School moved to Loudonville that same year, and St. Margaret’s House (by then known as St. Margaret’s House and Hospital for Babies) moved to the former Pest House (used by the city for isolating those with contagious diseases) in 1936. This site, located halfway between New Scotland Avenue and what is now Hackett Boulevard, would become the Good Samaritan Center campus.

St. Margaret’s official mailing address was 100 New Scotland Avenue, but it was much more easily reached from an unpaved section of Hackett Boulevard. A rough path then led the visitor north up the incline. This rough path became Samaritan Road.

1953 topographic map of Albany's University Heights section (credit andyarthur.org)

1953 topographic map of Albany’s University Heights section (credit andyarthur.org)

Child’s Hospital, however, remained on Elk Street for another twenty years. The Sisterhood ran the hospital until Sister Lydia’s death in 1949. Bishop Oldham then brought the Order of St. Anne from Kingston; they administered the hospital until 1958. In 1959, the Episcopal diocese again offered to sell the property to the State to build a much-needed parking lot. The State accepted this offer, and the diocese closed the Elk Street building in summer 1959. The building was demolished in August 1960.

Knickerbocker News August 22, 1960

Knickerbocker News August 22, 1960

With the closing of the last of the Elk Street institutions, Bishop Frederick L. Barry had a vision of a similar grouping of Episcopal institutions near the St. Margaret’s site. The location was selected both because it was near to St. Margaret’s, but also because the land was not settled and was easy to purchase. Before construction of the buildings, much of the land was used by squatters for garden plots.

Bishop Frederick L. Barry

Bishop Frederick L. Barry

As described in the Knickerbocker News for February 4, 1960, pride of place for the Good Samaritan Center was to be given on the Hackett Blvd entrance to the new Child’s Hospital and a chapel. The remainder of the 17 acre complex was to include a home for the elderly, a nurses’ residence and possibly nursing school, an addition to St. Margaret’s House, an administration building, and possibly a doctor’s building.

Knickerbocker News February 4, 1960

Knickerbocker News February 4, 1960

The first element to be built the Center was the new Child’s Hospital. This was accomplished speedily, and it received its first patient on October 23, 1961.

For unknown reasons, plans for the chapel did not progress. This was all for the best for St. Paul’s, because in September 1962 New York State bluntly informed our vestry that the congregation would not be able to stay on Lancaster Street. The vestry chose to relocate to the proposed site of the chapel at the Samaritan Center.

Over the next decade, other elements were added to the center: Nelson House (the home for the “well aged”), the Child’s Nursing Home, additions to St. Margaret’s House and a doctor’s building.

Good Samaritan Center (credit: Albany Churchman, March 1981)

Good Samaritan Center (credit: Albany Churchman, March 1981)

St. Paul’s and Child’s Hospital were Episcopal partners, siblings on Hackett Boulevard for our first 33 years on Samaritan Road. The Diocese of Albany sold Child’s Hospital in 1999, and it became the Albany Medical Center South Clinical Campus. The profits from that sale (over 10 million dollars) went to create Episcopal Charities of Albany Inc., which now provides “health care services and health care-related educational and religious programs” at the Spiritual Life Center in Washington County.

St. Margaret’s still sits on Samaritan Road, although it has long since become an independent institution. The diocese’s sale of Nelson House to the Albany College of Pharmacy in 2003 leaves only the street name to remind us of the Center. Perhaps we should change St. Paul’s address to 1 Samaritan Road as an appropriate nod to our history, and to the history of a laudable diocesan effort.

The Windows of St. Paul’s: Epiphany

"The Visit of the Wise Men to the Manger Cradle"

“The Visit of the Wise Men to the Manger Cradle”

This window, titled “The Visit of the Wise Men to the Manger Cradle,” was given in memory of Andrew Barton Jones and of his wife, Alice Tucker Jones by their children, and dedicated on Trinity Sunday, May 18, 1913. The window was designed by Frederick S. Lamb and executed by J. & R. Lamb, New York.

Detail of "The Visit of the Wise Men to the Manger Cradle"

Detail of “The Visit of the Wise Men to the Manger Cradle”

Andrew B. Jones (19 May 1840 — 29 May 1909) was a St. Paul’s vestryman  from 1892-1902 and warden 1902-1909. He became a partner in the Hudson Valley Paper Company in 1875, and the firm remained in the hands of the Jones family until its acquisition by Lindenmeyr Munroe in 2012.  Andrew Jones and Alice Tucker Jones (13 May 1843 –10 Jun 1891) had five children, one of whom was also a long-time member of the congregation.

Sydney Tucker Jones

Sydney Tucker Jones

Like his father, Sydney Tucker Jones (1878-1958) was a St. Paul’s vestryman and warden, serving forty years in those roles, most of them as senior warden. He married  Gwenola Smith, and the couple’s daughter Alice Tucker Jones married George A. Taylor, St. Paul’s rector from 1932 until 1948.

George A. Taylor

George A. Taylor

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!

 

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