Category Archives: Uncategorized

Veterans Day 2019: Dirk Roor

Memorial plaque for World War II Dead

In a previous post, I wrote about  the 255 men and women from St. Paul’s church who served in the Second World War and about the plaque bearing the names of those who died in that service. That post concentrated on one of those names, Donald Shore Candlyn. On this Veterans Day, I’d like to tell you about another of the fifteen named.

Dirk Roor (Knickerbocker News 17 May 1934)

Dirk Roor was born in Albany in 1925. Both of his parents were recent immigrants from the Netherlands, and the first time we find Dirk mentioned in the newspapers is this picture of him, age 9, dressed in a traditional Dutch costume, including wooden clogs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dirk had been baptized in Albany’s First Reformed Church, but his mother (who had beem widowed in 1934) enrolled him in T. Frederick H. Candlyn’s choir of men and boys at St. Paul’s. The next time we find him mentioned in the newspapers, he is again in costume, but this time for Halloween, posing with other trebles from St. Paul’s choir and the choirmaster’s wife, Dorothy Ridgeway Candlyn.

Choirboys’ Halloween. Dirk Roor is at left.  (Knickerbocker News 28 Oct 1938)

Dirk is probably also in this formal picture of the 1937 St. Paul’s choir, but I have been unable to identify him.

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

After graduating from Albany High School, Roor enlisted in the Army Air Forces in March 1944. He was a turret gunner on a B-24 Liberator that was declared missing in a combat mission over Hungary in March 1945, and his mother received confirmation of his death five months later. At the time of his death, three months before the German surrender, Sergeant Roor was 19 years old.

Sgt. Dirk Roor (Knickerbocker News 24 Aug 1945)

Dirk Roor is buried in his parents’ native country, in the American cemetery in Margraten, the Netherlands.

 

 

 

St. Paul’s Rectory on Greenway North, Albany

Another recent acquisition for the archives is this photograph of St. Paul’s rectory at 5 Greenway North, Albany.

St. Paul’s Rectory, 5 Greenway North, Albany (1948)

This photo was published in the Albany Times Union for February 28, 1948, when the church purchased the house for its new rector, Oliver D. Carberry. The Lancaster Street rectory was rented to Lena B. Henning, who ran a boarding house there. In 1951, St. Paul’s sold the former rectory to Mrs. Henning for $10,500, and used the proceeds to pay off part of the mortgage on the Greenway North house.

Carberry, whose tenure lasted from 1948 until 1954, was to be the only St. Paul’s rector to live at 5 Greenway North. When his successor, F. Graham Luckenbill, was called in 1955, the vestry sold the Albany rectory and bought a house at 65 Burhans Place, Elsmere.

 

Photographs of St. Paul’s, Lancaster Street: 1962-1964

This week I was able to acquire a photograph of St. Paul’s Lancaster Street building that I had never seen before. Originally published in the Albany Times Union, it shows the church as it looked late in the winter of 1962.

St. Paul’s Lancaster Street, March 1962

The publication date, March 28, 1962, is a significant one: this was the day after the Temporary State Commission for the Capital City 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.” You can read the story of the congregation’s efforts to save the building in an earlier post.

I earlier shared this photograph taken just a few months later, around April of 1962.

St. Paul’s, freshly painted, about April 1962

But this new discovery provides an opportunity to post three other photographs from our archives that also show the building in the three years before its demolition in October 1964.

St. Paul’s Lancaster Street, August 1963

 

St. Paul’s Lancaster Street, early 1964

St. Paul’s Lancaster Street, 1964

Where was St. Paul’s Lancaster Street Building?

Where was St. Paul’s Lancaster Street building? Sounds almost as silly as asking “Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?”

The answer of course, was on the south side of Lancaster Street, halfway between Hawk and Swan. But the building (and 98 acres in the heart of Albany), was demolished in 1964 to make room for the South Mall. So let’s reframe the question: where, in what we now call the Empire State Plaza, was St. Paul’s building? Many think it was near where the Center for the Performing Arts (popularly known as “the Egg”) now sits, but we’ve known for some time that it must have been farther west, somewhere between Agency Buildings 3 and 4.

Thanks to the New York Public Library, we can now answer the question precisely and definitively. The NYPL web site has images of a detailed 1876 map of Albany showing the church’s location. And they recently added software that allows the user to lay the old map precisely over the current Google map of the same area. The result is below.

1876 Map of St. Paul’s neighborhood, with overlay of 2014 Google map

The darker portions of the image are from the Google map. You can clearly see the edge of the Plaza Concourse in blue near the bottom right corner; the large green rectangle is the park-like area on the Plaza’s northwest corner, between South Swan Street and Agency Building 4 (shown in dark gray). In the bottom left in orange is the South Mall Arterial and immediately above it is Agency Building 3, also in dark gray.

The older map appears in lighter shades of gray, showing the streets, lots and major buildings as they existed in 1876.  And yes, hovering  just off the north corner of Agency Building 3 is the ghostly  St. Paul’s, labeled simply “Church.”

St. Paul’s Church and Rectory

The Plaza’s Central Air Conditioning Plant and Transformer Vault lies beneath what was once an entire city block, the block on which St. Paul’s stood. As we’ve mentioned before, St. Paul’s hopes for staying in their building as part of  the South Mall  were dashed when the block was chosen for the cooling and heating facility. St. Paul’s rector, Nelson F. Parke, reported that at a meeting with St, Paul’s vestry in September 12, 1962, the State’s Assistant Commissioner of Housing

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.

But St. Paul’s was not to have even three years. In May 1964, the Commissioner of the Office of General Services wrote St. Paul’s new rector, J. Raymond McWilliam, to inform him that

Our present schedule calls for the completion of construction plans and specifications for the Central Air Conditioning Plant and Main Transformer Vault by July 1, 1964. They would then be advertised for bids calling for initiation of work by about mid-August. The site extends from Chestnut Street on the north to Jay Street on the south, and the area to be excavated includes the entire Church property.

This work will require the severing of underground utility lines (gas, water, sewer), the relocation of the underground telephone duct system, and the closing of Jay, Lancaster and Chestnut Streets. The extensive excavation (which at the site of the Church will average about 30 fee in depth) and the other construction activities will create such disturbance in the general area that even if it were possible to program the construction so as to delay the need for the Church property as long as possible, I believe the conditions would soon become disheartening to your congregation.

The commissioner ended the letter by asking that St. Paul’s vacate the building by the end of August 1964, almost a year earlier than had been promised. The last service in the Lancaster Street building was held July 26, 1964, and the building was demolished in October of that year.

Diagram of proposed Empire State Plaza microgrid

St. Paul’s location has been in the news again lately, when it was announced that the main switchgear for the new heating and cooling system would be placed int the central air conditioning plant, precisely where St. Paul’s stood until its demolition in October 1964,

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)

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.

 

Bouillon Cubes and Saltine Crackers at the Governor’s Mansion

Today’s post brings a story from the memoirs of Arthur R. McKinstry (St. Paul’s rector from 1927 until 1931), with an amusing anecdote about Eleanor Roosevelt’s preference for simple food during Franklin’s term as New York governor (1929-1932).

Arthur R. McKinstry

Arthur R. McKinstry

Albany society, which had felt particularly cheated during the Smith regime, rejoiced that aristocracy had returned to the Governor’s Mansion. They waited hopefully for the first high tea to be given by Mrs. Roosevelt. But Mrs. Roosevelt, not sensing this, and being interested in a school and a furniture factory in New York City would be absent from Albany virtually the whole week, returning only for the weekends.

Soon Albany society became very discouraged about the prospects of any activity in the Mansion House. A good friend went to Mrs. Roosevelt and explained the situation to her, whereupon the Governor’s wife sent out engraved invitations, with one going to the rector of St. Paul’s Church and his wife. We all gathered expectantly at the Mansion. I remember how Mr. Roosevelt, came in – how gracefully he moved among the guests on his crutches. But what almost ruined relations between the Mansion and the society of Albany was the fact that on that occasion Mrs. Roosevelt served only bouillon cubes and saltine crackers. Albany society felt cheated again.[1]

Governor's Mansion 1925 [Photo credit: Albany... the way it was Archive]

Governor’s Mansion 1925 [Photo credit: Albany… the way it was Archive]

Albany society need not have been surprised that the new governor’s wife would have little time for entertaining. Mrs. Roosevelt had announced before Franklin’s inauguration that she would be busy from Tuesday through Friday each week, teaching American history, literature and serving as Vice-Principal at the Todhunter School for Girls in New York City, and overseeing the furniture factory at Val-kill in Westchester County.[2]

New York Times Times November 10, 1928

New York Times Times November 10, 1928

Albany society’s values were shallow indeed: despite the warmth of the Roosevelts’ greeting, they thought the event “almost ruined” because of the simplicity of the refreshments. No disrespect was intended: the food served was a matter of principle for Eleanor Roosevelt. Starting during the early 1920’s, Eleanor was much influenced by the Cornell University Home Economics program. She had a close relationship with its founders, Martha Van Rensselaer and Flora Rose, and advocated their simple and frugal recipes.[3]

This commitment to simple food extended to Eleanor Roosevelt’s years as First Lady (1933 – 1945). Contemporary accounts of the food served at the White House during the Roosevelt administration are harsh: guests routinely reported dull, unimaginative food. No wonder that many in Washington knew that it was advisable to eat before dining at the White House. It was not only guests that were dissatisfied: Franklin Roosevelt often complained about the quality of the food.[4] The food Eleanor chose was certainly plain, “especially at lunchtime. Broiled kidneys on toast, chipped beef on toast, shrimp wiggle on toast, curried eggs on toast…”[5] The president once complained about being served “liver and beans three days in a row.”[6]

Many of these dishes were influenced by the menus recommended by Cornell’s Home Economics Department. During the Depression, Eleanor wanted White House food to represent the kind of cooking that America’s distressed citizens could afford and cook. The emphasis was on low cost, efficient cooking, and nutrition, not on the pleasures of the table.[7] This view certainly made sense to a person like Eleanor, of whom her son James Roosevelt said “… she has no appreciation of fine food. Victuals to her are something to inject into the body as fuel to keep it going, much as a motorist pours gasoline into an auto tank.”[8]

While commentators agree that the Cornell program influenced Eleanor Roosevelt, there are two related theories about underlying factors, the type and quality of food served during the White House years.

As a practical matter, Henrietta Nesbitt, the head housekeeper that Eleanor employed during the entire time she lived in the White House, was unprepared for her role as supervisor of a staff of thirty-two, both maintaining the mansion and organizing meals from state dinners to family suppers. She seems also to have been willfully incompetent, ignoring advice from professional chefs and restaurants.[9] Roosevelt’s biographer, Blanche Wiesen Cook, in a chapter titled “ER’s Revenge: Henrietta Nesbitt, Head Housekeeper”[10] argues that Eleanor Roosevelt’s hiring of Nesbitt and her refusal, despite many provocations on Nesbitt’s part, to dismiss her, is an element in the First Lady’s passive-aggressive style in a troubled marriage. In partial defense of Mrs. Nesbitt, Barbara Haber points out that Nesbitt was above all loyal to her employer and benefactor, and was carrying out Mrs. Roosevelt’s instructions.[11]

This psychologizing on party food, however, seems petty and even mean-spirited. Eleanor Roosevelt, as First Lady of New York State, then as First Lady of the nation, and finally (in Harry S. Truman’s phrase) as First Lady of the World, lived a busy and noteworthy life, contributing much to our nation and our world. As a woman with many interests and causes, as her husband’s legs during Franklin’s governorship, as one of the most active and effective First Ladies in our history, Eleanor Roosevelt had far more important things on her mind than canapés.

New Yorker cartoon, 1932

New Yorker cartoon, 1932

Returning to St. Paul’s connection to this story, our rector Arthur R. McKinstry wrote that Governor Roosevelt knew him “quite well” when they were both in Albany, and we suspect this was not the only time McKinstry visited the Governor’s Mansion. Roosevelt and McKinstry kept in touch after Roosevelt was elected president, and in 1935 Roosevelt pressed his church, St. Thomas, Du Pont Circle, Washington, D.C. to call McKinstry as rector, a call that he declined.[12] McKinstry went on to be named bishop of Delaware.

[1] Arthur McKinstry, All I Remember…: The McKinstry Memoirs by the Fifth Bishop of Delaware 1939 – 1954 (Wilmington: Serendipity Press, 1975), 40.

[2] “Mrs. Roosevelt to Keep on Filling Many Jobs Besides Being the ‘First Lady’ at Albany,” New York Times, 10 Jan 1928.

[3] H. Roger Segelken, “Affectionately, Eleanor,” New York Archives 15, no. 4 (Spring 2016), 12 – 17.

[4] Laura Shapiro, “The First Kitchen: Eleanor Roosevelt’s austerity drive,” New Yorker (November 22, 2010).

[5] Shapiro.

[6] Henrietta Nesbitt, White House Diary (Garden City: Country Life Press, 1948), 185.

[7] Barbara Haber, “Home Cooking in the FDR White House: the Indomitable Mrs. Nesbitt,” in From Hardtack to Homefries: An Uncommon History of American Cooks and Meals (New York: The Free Press, 2002), 118-119.

[8] Haber, 123.

[9] Cook, 55.

[10] Blanche Wiesen Cook, Eleanor Roosevelt, Volume 2, 1933 – 1938, (New York: Viking, 1999), 52-59.

[11] Haber 121-124.

[12] McKinstry, 49-50.

January 1966 — Construction Complete on Hackett Boulevard

Hackett Blvd Building, 8 Jan 1966

Hackett Blvd Building, 8 Jan 1966

When these slides were taken on January 8, 1966, the new church was almost complete, with the consecration scheduled for the following April . The first slide shows the tower, with a ladder propped against the roof next to it. They may have been working on the wiring for the electric chimes, which had originally been installed in 1947 in the east tower of the Lancaster Street church as a memorial to members of the congregation who died in World War II.

The photograph also allows us to see progress on the installation the stained glass windows from the Lancaster Street building in the new narthex.

The second slide shows the Hackett Boulevard facade of the building, looking much as it does today, except for the bare soil and missing landscaping.

Hackett Blvd Building, 8 Jan 1966

Hackett Blvd Building, 8 Jan 1966