Category Archives: Other Episcopal Organizations

The Albany Diocesan Choir Festival

A few weeks ago, St. Paul’s choir sang “Christ whose glory fills the skies,” one of the most popular works of T.Frederick H. Candlyn, our organist from 1915 until 1943.

T.F.H. Candlyn 25th Anniversary at St. Paul’s

As we finished singing the piece (one that we regularly perform with pleasure), I noticed the note on the last page: “Copyright 1942. Commissioned by the Eleventh Albany Diocesan Choir Festival, Albert F. Robinson, director,” and wondered (not for the first time) what the Festival was. Within the past ten years, the Cathedral of All Saints has hosted an Epiphany choir event, in which the choirs of Albany deanery parishes joined. Was the 1942 Festival similar to this more recent “Battle of the Choirs?” No one seemed to know, but the answer was to be found in newspapers of the time. And a very interesting story it was.

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

The Albany Diocesan Choir Festival was begun in 1931 by J. William Jones, organist and choirmaster at All Saints Cathedral from 1929 until 1939. In the early years, these were small events, with just a few local choirs. But by the fourth annual Festival in 1935, with 22 choirs taking part, the festival had become a huge occasion, with (as a contemporary newspaper reported) “hundreds of voices” that was “attended each year by throngs.”

The 1935 festival was the culmination of a six-day “Festival Week of Music” at the Cathedral, including a concert of Candlyn’s compositions, sung by St. Paul’s choir and Candlyn’s chorus from the State College for Teachers. The week’s schedule was:

  • Monday: recital by the Cathedral choir featuring works of Palestrina
  • Tuesday: organ recital by Ernest White of Trinity Church, Lenox, Massachusetts
  • Wednesday: recital by Major John A. Warner piano, Earle Hummel violin
  • Thursday: concert of works of T. Frederick H. Candlyn
  • Friday: a chorus of American Guild of Organist choirs, conducted by Dr. Russell Carter. The  massed choir was composed of choirs from Reformed, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist congregations in Capital District.
  • Saturday: Fourth Annual Diocesan Choir Festival, conducted by J. William Jones. Part of this service was broadcast on radio station WGY.

Candlyn was again involved in the 1936 event as accompanist. That year also he was also president of the Albany Diocesan Choirmasters’ Association, which was very active in promoting and organizing the festivals, but also in sponsoring recitals, conferences and in commissioning choral works. The Association even published a newsletter, “The Chorister.”

Cover of “The Chorister,” May 1941

Candlyn was also accompanist in 1937, when twenty massed choirs sang his work “Thee we adore,” which he dedicated to the Festival choir.

St. Paul’s Choir, with T.F.H. Candlyn, 1937

By 1938, the Festival had “grown to be of national importance,” and had become the model for other festivals across the United States. That year, the Albany Diocesan Choirmasters’ Association conducted district festivals in each of the diocese’s deaneries, preparing the parish choirs for the diocesan event in Albany. The Ogdensburg event, for example, gathered 200 choristers from 14 choirs to St. John’s, Ogdensburg for rehearsals and for a choral service presided over by Bishop G. AShton Oldham.

George Ashton Oldham, Bishop of Albany

1938 was also the first year that the Albany Diocesan Choirmasters’ Association commissioned new works to be performed at the festival. The composers and their works were:

  • Healey Willan (1880 – 1968) of Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Toronto: “Before the ending of the day”
  • Everett Titcomb (1884 – 1968) of Church of St. John the Evangelist, Boston, Massachusetts: “Benedictus es, Domine”
  • Gardner C. Evans (1897 – 1951) of Church of Our Savior, Brookline, Massachusetts: “Thy kingdom come”

The Association arranged for publication of these works (as well as “Magnificat and Nun Dimittis” by Titcomb) by Carl Fischer, Inc., in Series I of The Albany Diocesan Choir Festival Series.

Healey Willan, “Before the Ending of the Day” cover obverse

In 1939, the Choir Festival was again part of “Festival of Music Week.” That year, the schedule was:

  • Monday: Albany Federal Orchestra (an organization supported by the Works Project Administration)
  • Tuesday: Liszt Choristers, Booker T. Washington Choral Society, Schenectady NYA Choir
  • Wednesday: chamber music recital, again with pianist Major John A. Warner, as well as a violinist, a horn player and four cellists.
  • Thursday: J. Stanley Lansing, Dean of the Eastern New York Chapter of the American Guild of Organists conducted a massed choir from nine area congregations
  • Friday: organ recital by Thomas Mathews of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Philadelphia
  • Saturday: Albany Diocesan Festival, with 50 choirs, Mr. Jones conducting

William Jones, whose energy had moved the festival from small beginning into a project that “has spread throughout the length and breadth of the Diocese of Albany, with a fine organization of choirmasters and clergy as its sponsor and its own magazine which now has a national circulation” resigned from the Cathedral staff effective December 1, 1939, his tenth anniversary at the cathedral.

“Cathedral of All Saints” by Earle L. Kempton

Jones’ place as director of the Festival was taken by Albert F. Robinson, organist and choirmaster at Trinity Church, Potsdam. Albert F. Robinson oversaw the district festivals that year. We have a record of the Albany deanery festival, which drew 10 choirs to St. Andrew’s Church in Albany.

The 1941 Festival may have been the grandest of them all, with 50 choirs and 500 voices joined. Two new anthems were commissioned for the service:

  • Alfred Whitehead (1887 – 1974) of Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal: “Come Thou Almighty King”
  • Gardner C. Evans (1897 – 1951) of Church of Our Savior, Brookline, Massachusetts: “O Saving Victim”

These, along with the following piece (probably commissioned for the 1940 Festival) were published by the Diocesan Choirmasters’ Association in Series II of Fischer’s The Albany Diocesan Choir Festival Series:

  • Charles O’Neill (1882-1964), professor at the State Teachers’ College at Potsdam, New York (now the Crane School of Music): “I will extol Thee”

As mentioned above, Candlyn’s work “Christ whose glory fills the skies” was commissioned for the 1942 festival. It also was published in Series II of the Fischer series. With the war on, this was a smaller event, held in conjunction with the Diocesan convention “to aid in conservation necessitated for war measures.” We assume that this refers to gasoline rationing, which would have made it very difficult to transport 50 choirs for a separate event. This year was to be Candlyn’s last at the Festival: in 1943 he resigned from St. Paul’s to become organist and choirmaster at St. Thomas Church in Manhatttan.

Healey Willan, “Before the Ending of the Day” cover reverse

The Diocesan Choir Festivals for 1943 and 1944 were again held in conjunction with the diocesan convention. There seems to have been a break during the last years of World War II.

The first Festival after the war was in 1947, when 500 singers from all parts of the diocese were directed by Duncan Trotter Gillespie, of St. George’s, Schenectady, and accompanied by organ and a brass choir from Albany High School. In 1950, in a sign that the festival had returned to its former glory, the regional festivals were held once again: the Albany deanery met at St. Andrew’s, and other events were held in Cohoes, Staatsville, Morris and Ogdensburg.

1951 was a slightly smaller event, with 25 choirs attending, but scheduling the festival with the newly-organized Tulip Festival helped with attendance: the audience, we are told, filled the cathedral to overflowing.

All Saints Cathedral (credit: Albany Group Archive)

Starting in the 1954, when the Choir Festival was again held in conjunction with the Tulip Festival, the director was W. Judson Rand Jr., organist and choirmaster of St. Peter’s church, who had been the festival’s organist back in 1941. The Diocesan Choirmasters’ Association continued to organize the event, which attracted 200 singer in 1955.

The last reference to the Festival that I’ve been able to find is an advertisement from 1965. It is a pity that we have lost this element of diocesan life. With smaller congregations and smaller choirs in many Episcopal churches, it would be difficult to organize such a festival today. But think of the benefits of bringing together musicians from across the diocese to meet, to form friendships, and to join together in song.

 

Child’s Hospital and the Good Samaritan Center

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.

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.

 

Holy Cross Farm

Rambles in local history frequently lead to surprises: we go looking for some piece of information, and stumble across something far more interesting. Serendipity struck again last month, when, purely by chance, I learned about an Episcopal orphanage for African-American children in Albany County. And the story was not new to just me: there were no references in either the diocesan history or the history of All Saints Cathedral.

Annual Report of the New York State Board of Charities, 1910

Annual Report of the New York State Board of Charities, 1910

The orphanage’s legal name was The Home for Colored Children, but it was more commonly referred to as Holy Cross Farm. It was located just outside the then city limits on New Scotland Avenue, in the hamlet of Hurstville.

The one full listing we have (from the 1910 Federal census for the town of Bethlehem) shows fifteen African-American children between the ages of two and seventeen. We know from a contemporary newspaper account[1] that it accepted children from across the State of New York. That year, there was a staff of six: a Mother Superior and her assistant, a teacher, cook, and a handyman.

According to a city directory of the period, the Mother Superior, Stella Runyon Martin, was called Sister Martina. Sister Martina was a member of the Sisterhood of the Holy Child Jesus, an order of Episcopal nuns organized by Bishop William Croswell Doane and Mother Helen Dunham in 1873. Sister Martina’s assistant, Winifred Clare Benedict, was known as Sister Benedicta, and likely belonged to the same order.

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

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

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

The orphanage was opened in 1902, and closed in 1914. For all but its first two years, Holy Cross Farm was directed by the Society of the Holy Cross in the City of Albany.

Annual Report of the New York State Board of Charities, 1904

Annual Report of the New York State Board of Charities, 1904

The Society of the Holy Cross was incorporated in 1904. Its officers consisted entirely of Cathedral staff and members: the president was the cathedral’s long-time Canon Precentor, Thomas B. Fulcher, the treasurer a long-time member of the Cathedral congregation, and the secretary was the assistant Cathedral organist. The Society was formed for “the religious educational and industrial advancement of the colored people in the State of New York under the auspices of the Protestant Episcopal Church.” Three activities were planned:

  • Rental housing in the city of Albany
  • Homes, schools or other institutions in the city of Albany
  • Care and custody of orphaned and neglected children

The first of these projects was already under way. According to the history of All Saints Cathedral[2], Sister Martina had inherited houses in Sheridan Hollow and, as a landlord, found a need among African-Americans for suitable rental housing.

Society of the Holy Cross housing (Sanborn map, 1908)

Society of the Holy Cross housing (Sanborn map, 1908)

The deeds for the properties tell a slightly different story. Sister Martina bought the houses from four different owners in October and November 1903 and assumed two mortgages; she sold the property to the Society of the Holy Cross in March 1904 and they assumed the mortgages. In 1910, the Society mortgaged the houses a second time to provide income for Holy Cross Farm[3]. Sister Martina also encouraged her tenants to join the Cathedral congregation[4]. Among these were two sisters, Georgine and Harriette Lewis.

Georgine Sheldon Lewis (University Archives, University at Albany, SUNY)

Georgine Sheldon Lewis (University Archives, University at Albany, SUNY)

In a 1910 newspaper article[5], Georgine Lewis is described as a director of the Society, whose offices were located with the rental properties at 27 Monroe Street. Georgine was then a student at the New York State Teachers’ College in Albany; she graduated in 1911 with a B.S., and later earned a master’s degree at the same institution. She was a long-time faculty member of the Washington D.C. Teachers’ College[6]. According to the University at Albany web site, “She was the first African-American to earn a graduate degree from the University and is believed to be the University’s first African-American graduate to become a college faculty member.”[7] Georgine’s younger sister, was no less impressive. Harriette Lewis graduated from the Teachers’ Training School at Albany in 1911[8], and was the first African-American to teach in the Albany Public Schools[9]. Both sisters were members of the Cathedral congregation; Georgine was married there by Canon Fulcher, the president of the Society of the Holy Cross[10].

The Society sold the houses on Orange and Monroe Streets in January 1914 to businessman William J. Stoneman. The houses were demolished in 1924 to build a warehouse which still stands on the site.

The Society’s second project seems never to have been begun. I have been unable to find any reference to any institution other than Holy Cross Farm.

The third project refers to Holy Cross Farm and the work done there. The fact that the houses were mortgaged a second time in 1910 may indicate financial pressure on the small institution. It closed in 1914 for reasons we may never know.

Richard Henry Nelson as bishop coadjutor of Albany

Richard Henry Nelson as bishop coadjutor of Albany

We do know that Bishop Richard Henry Nelson (who succeeded Bishop Doane in 1913) did some pruning of diocesan missions early in his term. It is possible that Holy Cross Farm was one of these. The Farm continues to be mentioned in classified advertisement for a few years, but only as a farm, offering pasturage for horses. The property was sold in three separate lots between 1914 and 1916.

While the orphanage was no more, Sister Martina continued her good works. According to her obituary, she ran a home known as Mission of the Cross on Staten Island for a dozen years, and also worked in Florida. She died at the Convent of St. Anne in Kingston in 1946.[11]

[1] “Local Officials Are Pleased With Holy Cross Home,” The Binghamton Press, 23 March 1912.

[2] George E. DeMille, Pioneer Cathedral: A Brief History of the Cathedral of All Saints, Albany. (Albany: no publisher, 1967), 159.

[3] “Mortgages Its Property: Society of the Holy Cross to Improve Farm for Colored Children,”Albany Evening Journal, 8 Aug 1910.

[4] DeMille, 159.

[5] “Mortgages Its Property: Society of the Holy Cross to Improve Farm for Colored Children,”Albany Evening Journal, 8 Aug 1910

[6] “Mrs. Wilkins Dies; College Teacher,” Albany Times Union, 1 Feb 1970.

[7] “African-Americans at the University at Albany and its Predecessor Institutions – 1858-present” http://www.albany.edu/news/uablackhistory.php retrieved 5 Mar 2016.

[8] Marian I. Hughes, Refusing Ignorance: The Struggle to Educate Black Children in Albany, New York, 1816-1873. (Albany: Mount Ida Press, 1998), 80-81.

[9] “The African Voice in Albany, New York: Harriette Bowie Lewis Van Vranken Remembers” in A.J. Williams-Myers (ed.) On the Morning Tide: African Americans, History and Methodology in the Historical Ebb and Flow of Hudson River Society. (Trenton: Africa World Press, 2003), 119-139.

[10] “Wilkins-Lewis,” Albany Times Union, 24 Aug 1914.

[11] “Sister Martina, 89, Dies in Kingston,” Albany Times Union, 16 Jan 1946.