Category Archives: Lancaster Street Building

The Windows of St. Paul’s: Advent

As the first in a series of St. Pau’l’s Church windows for the liturgical year, here is the lower panel of the chapel window donated by Donald Shore Candlyn, showing the Annunciation. This window, like all those in the chapel, is the work of Wilbur H. Burnham Studios, in Boston.

The Annunciation: lower panel of the Donald Shore Candlyn window

The Annunciation: lower panel of the Donald Shore Candlyn window

 

 

All Saints 2016 – a Centennial

It’s All Saints, and this year we mark the centennial of two objects donated to the parish, both of which were dedicated on All Saints Day 1916.

Knabe Grand Piano

Knabe Grand Piano

The first is a grand piano “for use in the upper room of the Parish House” on Jay Street, but now placed in the south aisle of the Hackett Boulevard church. It was “a gift as a thank offering to the parish by Marcia Brady Tucker, daughter of Mrs. Anthony N. Brady.” We’ve written recently about the generosity of the mother, Mrs. Marcia Ann Myers Brady, particularly the Flora Myers Brady Gavit Memorial Organ that she endowed in 1915. The younger Marcia grew up at St. Paul’s and was married to Carll Tucker here on February 27, 1908. The piano, in an ebony case, was built that same year (as confirmed by the serial number) by the Knabe Company in Baltimore Maryland.

The second object dedicated that All Saints Day 100 years ago was the tall clock that continues to keep watch over our coffee hours in the Blue Room. It was given by more than one hundred members of the congregation in memory of three parishioners associated with our Sunday School.

Elliott Tall Clock

Elliott Tall Clock

You might be surprised that such a lavish gift would be offered for Sunday School volunteers, but in those years St. Paul’s Sunday School was an important part of our corporate life. Total enrollment on November 1, 1915 had been 286, with average Sunday attendance that year of 203. Classes were divided in five departments (Beginners, Primary, Junior, Intermediate and Senior) with 30 teachers, all overseen by 12 officers.

The clock, a “[t]all English chiming clock, encased in mahogany, made by Elliott of London, England,” honored “the long and faithful service” of three individuals:

 

  • Frederick W. Ridgway, Jr. (15 Sep 1896 – 14 Jun 1916), the Assistant Secretary of the Church School, was the son of Frederick W. Ridgway Sr. (St. Paul’s vestryman from 1901 until his death in 1915), and the brother of Dorothy Ridgway, who the next year (1917) would marry our organist and choirmaster, T.F.H. Candlyn.
  • Anna Jaykill Phelps (22 Jan 1857 – 8 Jul 1916), “teacher with a record of nearly 25 years of perfect attendance.” Anna was married to Marcus E. Phelps and had two sons, Charles and Edward.
  • Ira Porter Jr. (12 Jan 1838 – 21 Nov 1914), Librarian of the Church School for 45 years
Ira Porter Jr.

Ira Porter Jr.

By far the longest serving was the last of these. Ira Porter Jr. had retired as Sunday School librarian about 1905, so his tenure with the Sunday School, went all the way back to almost 1860. He served in the period when St. Paul’s Sunday School was the largest in the city, and when attendance far surpassed even the levels in the early 20th century. The glory years were the 1870s and 1880s, when total enrollment was 600, and average attendance was about 400, with almost fifty teachers.

Sunday School Song Book 56th Anniversary (1883)

Sunday School Song Book 56th Anniversary (1883)

Ira Porter Jr., a member of St. Paul’s for fifty years, had not only served as Sunday School librarian, he was also clerk of the vestry for thirteen years. He was the son of Ira Porter Sr. (1811 – 1892) and Jane Eliza Rice Porter (1818 – 1894). The elder Ira Porter was a St. Paul’s vestryman from 1859 until 1871. Ira Jr. worked at the Albany Customs House for fifty years, ending his career in 1907 as a Special Deputy Surveyor of Customs.

Ira Porter Sr.

Ira Porter Sr.

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.

Daniel Manning’s Funeral

Daniel Manning

Daniel Manning

In its almost 190 years, St. Paul’s has had a number of distinguished members, men and women who have played important roles on a local, statewide or national stage. But we can claim only one member whose image appears on United State currency. As owner and editor of the Albany Argus, as president of Albany’s National Commercial Bank, as chairman of the New York State Democrat Committee, and as Secretary of the Treasury, Daniel Manning is among the most prominent who have sat in our pews.

Daniel Manning was born in Albany in 1831. He began work at age 11 as a “chore boy” at the Albany Atlas. The Atlas merged with the Albany Argus in 1856, and Manning rose through its ranks, first as a reporter, then editor, and finally owner in 1873. Through this period, he also made political contacts, and was a member of the New York delegation at the Democratic conventions of 1876 and 1880.

Daniel Manning

Daniel Manning

By the 1884 Democratic convention, Manning had become chairman of the New York delegation. He championed Grover Cleveland as a presidential candidate, and successfully fought for his nomination in the Democratic convention. During the election, as chairman of the New York State Democratic Committee, Manning made certain that ballots were properly counted, ensuring Cleveland’s victory in the State. His appointment as Secretary of the Treasury was not purely a political gift. As a board member of Albany’s National Commercial Bank beginning in 1873, and its president since 1882, Manning had become knowledgeable about fiscal policy, and had presented Cleveland with a plan for improving the Treasury Department. Contemporary reports suggest that he was among the most competent and intelligent of cabinet members during Cleveland’s first term. By 1886, there was even talk within the party of proposing Manning for nomination as president in 1888.

James Hilton Manning

Manning’s health had been poor for some time, and in early 1887 he resigned his position and returned to Albany. He died on Christmas Eve 1887 at the family home on Lancaster Street, just one block from the church. Daniel Manning had attended St. Paul’s for about thirty years, but had only been confirmed and become a communicant at Easter 1882. His son, James Hilton Manning was a St. Paul’s vestryman for twenty years, from 1883 until 1903.

 

 

 

St. Paul's Chancel, Late 19th century

St. Paul’s Chancel, Late 19th century

St. Paul's, Late 19th century

St. Paul’s, Late 19th century

St. Paul's Nave, Late 19th century

St. Paul’s Nave, Late 19th century

St. Paul's Nave, Late 19th century

St. Paul’s Nave, Late 19th century

 

Daniel Manning’s funeral, held the afternoon of December 27, 1887, was the grandest ever held in the Lancaster Street building. The New York Sun for

Charles S. Fairchild

Charles S. Fairchild

December 28, 1887 reported that “[I]t was the most distinguished gathering of men Albany has ever seen at a funeral of one of her sons. “ President Garfield and five of his cabinet arrived that morning in a special train car. A sixth cabinet member arrived separately; only one cabinet member missed the event.

Among the cabinet was Manning’s successor as Secretary of the Treasury, Charles S. Fairchild, who, in another St. Paul’s connection, was a vestryman here from 1873 to 1878. To date, Manning and Fairchild are the only two members of St. Paul’s who have served in a presidential cabinet.

Here is the original telegram from Daniel S. Lamont (Cleveland’s private secretary and a Daniel Manning protégé) to James H. Manning describing the plans of the presidential party.

Daniel Lamont Telegram

Daniel Lamont Telegram

Daniel Lamont Telegram

Daniel Lamont Telegram

Delegations arrived from New York City, Brooklyn, Tammany Hall, the Democratic party, and the U.S. Treasury Department. Delegations from Albany included the Directors of the National Commercial Bank, the Typographical Union, the local Masonic lodge, and city and State officers.

Funeral Invitation

Funeral Invitation

Not just the prominent and politically connected came. People from the city and the region packed the streets, and made it difficult for sleighs carrying dignitaries and family to reach the church, as described in the New York Times for December 28, 1887:

The funeral of ex-secretary Manning to-day was the most notable, with the exception of that of Grant and Lincoln, ever seen in old Albany. Not only the citizens of this city filled the streets and packed those adjacent to the church, but people flocked in from the surrounding country in large numbers and added to the density of the throng… The crowd about the church was dense, and choked the entire street for more than a block. The police with difficulty kept passageways open to admit the various bodies.

The service was conducted by St. Paul’s rector, J. Livingston Reese, who also preached the sermon.

William Prall

William Prall

A dozen other Episcopal clergy were present, including St. Paul’s curate William Prall (who would later become St. Paul’s rector), Bishop William Croswell Doane,

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

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

the rectors of all the Albany parishes, the president of Hobart College and a group of canons and honorary canons from the Cathedral of All Saints. Music was provided by St. Paul’s choir, led by choirmaster George Edgar Oliver, who had composed new music for the event.

The twelve pallbearers were men with national reputations, including a U.S. Senator, a former U.S. Senator, a Congressman (and former Speaker of the House), and a judge of the New York Court of Appeals. Six were bankers, two of whom had served at high levels in the U.S. Treasury; most held powerful positions in the Democratic Party.

The New York Times  for December 28, 1887 continues, “As the cortege left the church and the great crowd which had been held together broke away the ponderous City Hall pealed forth in faint refrain and the bells of other churches tolled in unison. Many, curiously inclined, followed the president’s sleigh, disregarding the solemnity of the occasion.”

Here is Manning’s tombstone in the Albany Rural Cemetery.

Manning Memorial, Albany Rural Cemetery

Manning Memorial, Albany Rural Cemetery

The Easter after his death, Daniel Manning’s widow presented a brass cross and two vases to St. Paul’s. “Mrs. Manning has many tender memories of St. Paul’s Church. Not only was the late Secretary one of its earnest memories for many years,

Manning Memorial Cross and Vases

Manning Memorial Cross and Vases

but she was married to Mr. Manning by the present rector, Dr. Reese, at its altar. When the Secretary lay upon his death-bed among the last sounds he heard on earth were the sacred chants of the choir of St. Paul’s wafted through the windows of the room in which he died, and was its rector who preached the funeral sermon.”

 

Here is a recent photograph of the cross and vases, still in use at St. Paul’s, and the resolution from St. Paul’s vestry, thanking Mrs. Manning for the gift in memory of “our beloved and distinguished brother in Christ.”

Vestry Resolution

Vestry Resolution

Manning Memorial Cross and Vases

Manning Memorial Cross and Vases

In other memorials, an engraving of Manning appeared on the U.S. silver certificate issued in 1886 and 1891. And closer to home, Daniel Manning may now be most remembered as the person for whom Manning Boulevard was named.

Manning Diamond Back $20 Silver Certificate

Manning Diamond Back $20 Silver Certificate

Manning Boulevard (courtesy Albany Group archive)

Manning Boulevard (courtesy Albany Group archive)

“Lest We Forget”

On June 8, 1947, St. Paul’s rector, George A. Taylor, dedicated a set of electronic chimes given by the congregation in honor of those from the parish who had died in military service during World War II.

Memorial plaque for World War II Dead

Memorial plaque for World War II Dead

The chimes, paid for by a special subscription from the congregation, had first been heard on Christmas Eve the previous year, when the organist, Raymond S. Halse, played carols before the service.

At the June dedication service, St. Paul’s choir sang Reginald De Koven’s setting of Kipling’s “Recessional.” Father Taylor took the title of his sermon from the the poem’s stirring line, repeated at the end of each of the first three stanzas: “Lest we forget!”

New York Times 6 Mar 1945

New York Times 6 Mar 1945

Among those listed is Donald Shore Candlyn, who was born in Albany in 1925 and graduated cum laude from the Albany Academy in 1943. He died 26 Dec 1944 in Luxembourg, during the Battle of the Bulge. The monument shown below is in the Memorial Grove in Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx.

Donald Shore Candlyn memorial, Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx

Donald Shore Candlyn memorial, Van Cortlandt Park, the Bronx

Candlyn’s parents. T. Frederick H. Candlyn and Dorothy Ridgway Candlyn, had moved to New York City in 1943 when his father, who had been the organist and choirmaster of St. Paul’s Church from 1915 until 1943, was named to the same position at St. Thomas Church, Manhattan.

As related in a November 12, 1945 New York Times article, “Sgt. Donald S. Candlyn was killed by a sniper’s bullet on Dec. 26, 1944 while on a mission above and beyond the call of duty. With the Germans on the offensive at the time, American communications had broken down and Sergeant Candlyn, in the face of heavy fire, had volunteered as a foot runner to obtain orders.” Candlyn was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart.

In a will signed just before leaving for war, Donald Candlyn made several bequests. We know that one provision was for his father’s new church: in April 1948 a  new principal four-foot stop on the St. Thomas organ was dedicated in his memory. But the 19-year-old also left a bequest to St. Paul’s Church. In our chapel is a window that was a gift of Donald Shore Candlyn.

Donald Shore Candlyn window, St. Paul's Chapel

Donald Shore Candlyn window, St. Paul’s Chapel

Detail, Donald Shore Candlyn window, St. Paul's Chapel

Detail, Donald Shore Candlyn window, St. Paul’s Chapel

The Jay Street Parish House

The Parish House for St. Paul’s Lancaster Street building was at 79 Jay Street, at the rear of the church building. It consisted of two buildings, both donated in memory of long-time members. This photograph, from the 1920 Year Book, is the earliest that shows both sections.

St. Paul's Jay Street Parish House, 1920

St. Paul’s Jay Street Parish House, 1920

The older section on the east side was built in 1883 through a donation by John Henry Van Antwerp in memory of his wife Martha Nancy Wiswall Van Antwerp, who had died in 1880.

John Henry Van Antwerp

John Henry Van Antwerp

John H. Van Antwerp was first elected to the vestry in 1858 and became senior warden in 1862. At the time of his retirement in 1902 he had served continuously as senior warden for an amazing 41 years.

The western section of the Parish House was built in 1920, with funds donated by Pauline Hewson Wilson in memory of her parents, George Powers Wilson and Helen Louisa Hewson Wilson.

George Powers Wilson

George Powers Wilson

Helen Louisa Hewson Wilson

Helen Louisa Hewson Wilson

Parish House Plaque

Parish House Plaque

George P. Wilson had served as vestryman for two periods (1876-1878 and 1884-1895) and two periods as warden (1895-1900 and 1908-1918), for a combined 28 years as vestryman and warden.

There are very few photographs of the exterior of these buildings. The next that I’ve been able to find shows the Van Antwerp section in May 1964, with the date 1883 visible just left of center.

St. Paul's Church Jay Street Facade May 1964

St. Paul’s Church Jay Street Facade May 1964

A few months later, in October 1964, a St. Paul’s parishioner took this photograph of the Parish House just before it was demolished. Several blocks to the south of the church had already been leveled, producing the only picture to show the entire building from a distance.

St. Paul's Jay Street Facade October 1964

St. Paul’s Jay Street Facade October 1964

The final image of the Parish House (from the Times-Union archive), taken a few days later, shows the buildings during demolition, with the 1883 date again clearly displayed.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church is demolished to make way the South Mall Oct. 19, 1964, in Albany, N.Y. Historic buildings and streets 1960s, Empire State Plaza. (Times Union archive)

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is demolished to make way the South Mall Oct. 19, 1964, in Albany, N.Y. Historic buildings and streets 1960s, Empire State Plaza. (Times Union archive)

The Lancaster Street Rectory

Church records no information about how housing was provided to St. Paul’s earliest rectors. Most of them seem to have rented or purchased houses in the neighborhood, although as late as 1869 J. Livingston Reese (rector from 1864 until 1891) was boarding at 67 Chapel Street, one third of a mile from the church. The first mention of plans for a rectory appears in our records in 1865, when the Sunday school donated $1,200 for purchase of the lot to the west of the church for that purpose from Miss Kate Wilson. This was an impressive amount of money, with an approximate current value of $18,000,  at a time when St. Paul’s had one of the largest Sunday Schools in the city, with almost 500 students and about 50 teachers. In 1867, funds for construction of the building were raised by a subscription and by the women of the parish.

There is some question about when the rectory was completed. Reese, Its first occupant, reported that he was first able to welcome guests there on New Year’s Day, 1870. But church historian Thomas H. C. Clemishire (whose father, John Clemishire was a carpentry contractor on the project) writes that contracts were let in June 1870. A January 1871 newspaper article says “A new rectory is already completed and occupied”, but adds information about what its dimensions and cost will be “when completed.” [Albany Evening Journal 28 Jan 1871] Perhaps it is best to say, as did Milton W. Hamilton in his 1977 history of the parish, that it “was built in 1870-71,” and that construction may have proceeded in stages.

Construction over a period of years would explain the building’s unusual design, which has been described as “post-Civil War eclectic, combining several stylistic trends of the period: French Second Empire, Venetian Gothic (arches with poly-chrome voussoirs), and maybe a bit of Italian Renaissance thrown in for good measure.”

The  rectory was “sixty feet in length by twenty-four feet in width, and three stories in height.” [Albany Evening Journal 28 Jan 1871].  The best photograph we have was probably taken about 1900. The rectory (80 Lancaster) is immediately to the right of the church. The house on the far right (82 Lancaster) was built in 1884 as the home of Anna Van Allen Jenison and her husband  E. Darwin Jenison, Vice President of the Commerce Insurance Company. Known as “the Swiss Chateau,” it was a wedding gift from Anna’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Garrett A. Van Allen, who were long-time members of St. Paul’s.

St. Paul's Church and Rectory

St. Paul’s Church and Rectory

I have been able to locate only three photographs of the Lancaster Street rectory. The earliest is the best, taken about 1900 and showing both church and rectory in fine detail.

Then next two are snapshots that were taken in 1946 during an insurance appraisal.

Rectory 1946 002 v001

St. Paul’s Lancaster Street Rectory, 1946

 

Rectory 1946 001 v001

St. Paul’s Lancaster Street Rectory, 1946

Sadly, the fourth photograph was also most likely the last, taken shortly before the church and rectory were demolished in October 1964 for construction of the South Mall.

St. Paul's Church and Rectory, 1963 or 1964 (photo credit: Times-Union Archive)

St. Paul’s Church and Rectory, 1963 or 1964 (photo credit: Times-Union Archive)

Much of the neighborhood was demolished by mid-1963, so this undated photo may have been taken during the winter of 1963 – 1964. The church stands out clearly in the foreground, because its reddish or buff-colored brickwork had been painted white in 1960.  The rectory still exists, but is difficult to see behind the bare trees.

St. Paul’s Lancaster Building On Postcards!

In the early twentieth century, postcards were a popular way for families and friends to keep in touch. The variety of subjects is immense; cards show not just natural sights, or impressive buildings, but more humble streets scenes, and even churches.

Today we share three postcards printed in the first decade of the last century, all showing St. Paul’s Church on Lancaster Street. The first image should be familiar, because we use it here frequently. It appears on a card mailed from Albany to Brooklyn, New York in December 1911. During this period, the card reverse could be used only for the address, so you see the message on the face of card below the photograph.

Postcard of St. Paul's Church (1911)

Postcard of St. Paul’s Church (1911)

The next card is slightly earlier, but uses the same image, along with pictures of other Albany church and public buildings. It was mailed in December 1906, also to Brooklyn, New York.

St. Paul's Postcard (1906)

St. Paul’s Postcard (1906)

Finally, with many thanks to the good people at the Albany Postcard Project, we are able to share another card, mailed to Schenectady in August 1906. Can you find St. Paul’s? It peeking out from behind the beautiful young woman in the last letter of “Albany.”

Greetings from Albany (1906),  by permission of the Albany Postcard Project

Greetings from Albany (1906), by permission of the Albany Postcard Project

 

October 1964 — Demolition of the Lancaster Street Building, After and Before

Did you see Chris Churchill’s excellent article “Empire State Plaza isn’t worth celebrating” in the Sunday, May 24, 2015 issue of the Times-Union? One of the illustrations is a photograph taken on October 19, 1964, showing the Jay Street facade of St. Paul’s Lancaster Street building, including the chancel and parish hall, just as demolition began. This is an image we’ve never seen, and we’d like to thank Chris for providing a high-definition copy for our records.

St. Paul's Episcopal Church is demolished to make way the South Mall Oct. 19, 1964, in Albany, N.Y. Historic buildings and streets 1960s, Empire State Plaza. (Times Union archive)

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church is demolished to make way the South Mall Oct. 19, 1964, in Albany, N.Y. Historic buildings and streets 1960s, Empire State Plaza. (Times Union archive)

For comparison, our archives has two color slides taken just before the Times-Union image. The first, a closeup of the parish hall, was taken in spring 1964, while the building was still in use.

Jay Street Facade May 1964

Jay Street Facade May 1964

The other shows the buildings immediately before demolition began. Notice that the church and parish hall appear to have been the last structures standing in this part of the South Mall “catchment area”.

St. Paul's Jay Street Facade October 1964

St. Paul’s Jay Street Facade October 1964

Finally, here is another “after” photograph from our archives. This November 1964 slide shows the Lancaster Street facade after demolition. The frame of the nave rose window can be seen leaning against the rubble.

Lancaster Street facade after demolition

St. Paul’s Lancaster Street facade immediately after demolition in October 1964