Amasa J. (Amasa Junius) Parker.

Landmarks of Albany County, New York online

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Methodism was first established in Albany county in 1788, although
services in this faith had been held, probably, as early as 17G6 in Al-
bany by Capt. Thomas Webb, of the British army. He was then
stationed here as barrackmaster and having been converted to Method-
ism in his own country, held family prayers at which some of his neigh-


bors attended, and prubably preached in the streets. In February,
17G7, he was in New York where he labored as an evangelist. The
pioneer Methodist preacher to labor regularly in the local field was Rev.
Freeborn Garretson, a native of Maryland, one of the earliest Methodist
preachers of American birth. He went to New York in 1788 and en-
gaged in the revival work that was then spreading northward.

Francis Asbury, who had been elected bishop in 1771, and Mr. Gar-
retson were assigned with a number of other young men to this district,
the bishop himself passing over the territory once each three months.
Albany soon became an important point in this field and Mr. Garretson
obtained permission to preach in the City Hall. It can be easily imag-
ined that the new doctrine, which had received more or less opposi-
tion wherever planted, received little encouragement in Albany, espe-
cially from the clergy of other denominations, so that Mr. Garretson
wrote on luly 1, 1770, that " Albany still appears to be a poor place for
Methodism." The following day he met a few friends in a private
dwelling and united them in a society under Methodist discipline,
and in the evening preached to them in the City Hall, Within the
next two years a house of worship was built on the southeast corner of
North Pearl and Orange streets. This church and society were incor-
porated in 1784 as the Methodist Episcopal Church of the City of Al-
bany, with John Bloodgood, Abraham Ellison, Isaac Lawson, Elisha
Johnson, William Fradenberg, Nathaniel Ames, and Calvin Chessman,
trustees. In 1812 a new church edifice was built on Division street, the
old one being occupied for a time by a Baptist congregation, and finally
in 1882 being sold to the Scotch Presbyterians. The first preacher
stationed at Albany after it was taken from the circuit was Joel
Ketcham, after whom changes in pastors were frequent, as is cu.s-
tomary in this denomination. In 1813 it was proposed to found a Sun-
day school, but as the older members of the church frowned upon
the proposition as a desecration of the day, the project was temporarily
abandoned in favor of a liberal circulation of tracts. The school was,
however, finally established through the efforts of a woman, a Mrs.
Brockway, who in 1816 had organized a day school and added Sabbath
services. The church was slow in growth, its membership of forty per-
sons in 1799 being only a little more than one hundred in 1811. In
February, 1812, two lots on the south side of Division street, a little
below South Pearl, were purchased and there a new church was erected
and first used in 181o, the membership then being 153 white persons




and sixteen blacks. The introduction in 1829 of the policy of renting
seats caused great dissatisfaction and led to the withdrawal of a consid-
erable number of the congregation, who rented a hall on the corner of
Pearl and Columbia streets and obtained preachers from the Water-
vliet circuit, and in February purchased a large building on the east side
of Pearl street near the site they had occupied. Here a revival soon be-
gan which greatly enlarged not only the Methodist church, but ex-
tended its influence among other denominations. At the Conference of
1834 a third church was organized — the Wesleyan Chapel in the southern
part of the city. In 1835 the membership of the three societies was
440 in the first; 435 in the second (called Garretson Station), and 214
in the Wesleyan. Another church was now authorized by the Confer-
ence called the West Station, The organization was effected by mem-
bers of the Division street society and the Garretson Station, who
united in the purchase of a small house of worship which the Primitive
Methodists had built on State street, above the Capitol. This society,
feeble at first, soon increased in numbers and in 1845 purchased a site
on the corner of Washington a\Liiuc and Swan streets and there erected a
new edifice. The societ\-, thruugh lack of wisdom in financial manage-
ment, finally became reduced in number and heavily encumbered with
debt. In 1839 the Wesleyan Chapel was burned. This organization
had also become involved in debt and small in number, largely through
its anti-slavery proclivities and activity, so that the property was sold to
pay debts and in May, 1842, the society disbanded; but on the follow-
ing Sabbath (May 27) the teachers of the Sunday school met and deter-
mined to reorganize, which they did at the Ferry Street M. E. church.
While still under pressing difficulties Thomas Schuyler joined the con-
gregation and relieved their financial burdens. In 1843 the Division
Street church found a more eligible site on Hudson street between
Philip and Grand and built a new edifice which they occupied within
the same year. A parsonage has been erected in connection with the
church property, and the church building has been extensively im-
proved, particularly in 1865. The fifth Methodist church in Albany was
organized in 1848, succeeding the formation of a class on Arbor Hill.
In the year 1854 the Albany Methodist Sunday School Union was formed
which within a few years established five schools — one on Central
avenue, one at West Albany, one called the South Mission, on Benja-
min street, one at Bath, and one at East Albany, the two latter being
across the river. Some of these formed the nucleus of later churches.

V 346

In 1870 a remarkable revival was experienced in the Central avenue
chapel, conducted by a number of zealous laymen and the missionary
who had been appointed in 1868. At the ensuing Conference a second
missionary was appointed with special charge of the Central avenue
congregation, which had a membership of ninety at the close of the first
pastorate in 1873. Meanwhile the West Station, or Washington vStreet
church, which was merely a mission in 1853, had prospered, funds had
been raised, and in 1867 a fine edifice was erected on the corner of
Lark and Lancaster streets. It took the name of Trinity M. E. church
and was dedicated in December, 1875. Within the past four years the
interior of the church has been somewhat changed and redecorated. In
1881 the Garretson Station congregation, which had in the mean time
erected its second church building, united with the Central avenue
congregation. Separate worship was kept up, however, until the com-
pletion of the new church edifice, situated on the corner of Clinton and
Lexington avenues, in 1883-4, which took its present name of St. Luke's.
In 1869 the Broadway Mission and the Arbor Hill congregation were
united under the name of Grace church, and a lot was purchased on the
corner of Ten Broeck street and Livingston avenue, where a temporary
structure was built which was supei'seded a few years later by the present
edifice. When the pressure of business establishments began to crowd
upon the church property of the Methodists and Presbyterians on Hud-
son avenue, it was realized that a removal must be made. The latter
congregation finally built their new church edifice on the corner of State
and Willet streets, at the northeast corner of the Park, while the Metho-
dists purchased the building previously occupied by the Presbyterians,
at the same time selling their own property. The Ferry Street church
prospered and in 1863 sought a better location, a site being purchased
on the corner of Westerlo and Grand streets where the present Ash
Grove church v^'as erected, with a parsonage adjoining.

The fourth church society organized in Albany was in the Presby-
terian faith, the organization having been perfected in 1762. Preach-
ing had been maintained for about two years previous to that date by
supplies sent by the New York and Philadelphia Synods, among whom
were Revs. Hector Alison, Andrew Bay, William Tennant, Abraham
Kettletas, John Smith, and Aaron Richards. The site for the first
church edifice was purchased in 1763 and in the next year the society
was recognized as an incorporated body. The church was at first


connected with the Dutchess County Presbytery, organized in October,
1762, but in 1775 it was transferred to the Presbytery of New York.
The first church edifice was erected in 1764, on the lot on Gallows Hill,
on a site bounded by Beaver street on the north, Hudson street on the
south, William street on the east, and Grand street on the south, and'
was a plain wooden structure, painted red,- and having a bell tower
surmounted by a spire. This was occupied until about 1795, in which
and the following year the second edifice was erected on South Pearl
street on the site occupied in recent years by the Beaver block, at a
cost of about $13,000. This building was sold to the Congregational-
ists in 1850 and the congregation removed to their third church on the
corner of Hudson avenue and Philip street, which was erected in 1849-
50, at a cost of $15,000, the lot having been purchased two years
earlier, and which was-opened for service March 10, 1850. In 1856 this
building was sold to the First M. E. Society (as before stated) for $25,000,
and in 1883-4 the fourth church of this society was built on the corner
of State and Willett streets, fronting Washington Park, and with its
session house cost about $110,000. William Force Whittaker is the
present pastor.'

On the third Monday in July, 1813, certain subscribers to a building-
fund for a new Presbyterian church met and appointed James Kane,
John L. Winne, Joseph Russell, Nathaniel Davis, and Robert Sedg-
wick, trustees. Work was at once commenced on a building, which
was opened for worship in vSeptember, 1815, and over which Rev. John
Chester was installed as the first pastor November 8, 1815. On De-
cember 3, John L. Winne, John Boardman, Chester Bulkley, and
Uriah Marvin were chosen ruling elders of the church. This society
was greatly prospered under Dr. Chester's administrations, the mem-
bership reaching 365 in 1829. Among the pastors of this church was
Rev. William Buell Sprague, 1829-69, eminent as the author of " The
Annals of the American Pulpit," a work of nine volumes.

The third Presbyterian church in Albany, now known as the Second
Presbyterian church, was organized by a number of members from the
First church and some from the Associate Reformed church, in 1817.
An edifice was soon erected on Montgomery street, which was occu-
pied until 1844, when it was sold to the Bethel Society, the present
church, corner of Clinton avenue and North Pearl street, being dedi-
cated December 3, 1845. 'The first pastor was Rev. Hooper Gumming.

The fourth Presbyterian church was incorporated December 1, 1828,


the edifice of which, on the north side of Broadway, was erected in
1829, and dedicated May :iO, 1830; but this was taken down in 1865 and
the present church erected in 1866. The first pastor was Rev. Edmund
N. Kirk, the present being Rev. David O. Mears. During a few years
past this society has erected a permanent building for the Viaduct
Mission, which it established, and has considerably improved the
church itself.

The fifth Presbyterian church in Albany was organized in 1831, the
first meeting being held in the City Hall, the firs,t pastor being Rev.
Alonzo Welton, whose services began in 1832.

The sixth Presbyterian church in Albany was organized as a result
of a prayer meeting held in December, 1853, in a room on what is now
Living-ston avenue, and in October of the next year a Sunday school
was organized. The work continued until the spring of 1868, when
Rev. John R. Young was employed as a missionary to aid in organiz-
ing the church. His place was taken in May, 1868, by Rev. Amos
Hammond Dean, and the organization was perfected December 8, of
that year. The church edifice on Second street v/as completed in the
fall of 1871 and dedicated on November 16. Rev. Leslie R. Groves is
the present pastor.

The State Street Presbyterian church was organized in 1860, with
Rev. Alexander S. Tombley as pastor, and the present church edifice
was erected and dedicated October 13, 1862, since which time it has
been little changed. Rev. John McC. Holmes is the present pastor,
having served the church since 1877.

The West End Presbyterian church was built in 1877 on the corner
of New York Central avenue and Third street. The first pa.stor was
Rev. Robert Ennis, the present being Rev. George N. Karner. Within
a few years past the main audience room of the edifice has been en-
larged and the interior otherwise improved, and a chapel has been
added to the building.

Madison Avenue Presbyterian church was organized and a temporary
building erected in 1888, which was occupied until 1894, when it was
enlarged to meet the increasing numbers of the congregation. A new
and handsome edifice in pressed brick is now (1896) in process of erec-
tion, which is due to the untiring eiiforts of Rev. Charles A. Richmond,
the present pastor.

The United Presbyterian church in Albany had its inception as early
as October, 1800, when the society was connected with the Presbytery


of Montreal, the first pastor being; Rev. John McDonald, who con-
tinued until 1S19 and died in Albany. In 1820 the chui-ch was trans-
ferred to the Presbytery of Cambridge and Rev. James Martin became
pastor, continuing to 18-12. The first church edifice stood on the cor-
ner of Chapel and Canal streets and was occupied in January, 1802. A
new edifice, situated en Lancaster street near Eagle, was erected in
1800 and opened on the first Sabbath of 1801. In May, 1858, the As-
sociate and Associate Reformed churches were united to form the
United Presbyterian Church of North America, and this congregation
then took its present title. Rev. S. C. McKelvey is the present pastor.

The first meeting of Baptists in Albany was held January 1, 1810,
by Joshua A. Burke, Salem Butcher, John Gray, William Penrey,
Charles Boyington, Tamer Page, Betsey Burke, Catharine Gordon,
I\Iargaret Jones, Elenor Penrey, and on January 23, 1811, a church or-
ganization was perfected with twenty-one members. In 1818 what was
then known as the Green Street Theater was purchased, refitted and
occupied many years as a place of worship, until in 1852 a site on the
corner of Hudson avenue and Philip street was purchased and there the
present edifice was built at a cost of $-2G,000. The building was ex-
tensively improved in 1865. Rev. De Witt T. Van Doren is the pres-
ent paster.

The Tabernacle Baptist Church is an outgrowth of a mission formed
in 1856, consisting of a few members of the society now constituting
the Emmanuel Baptist church, who met in a building on North Pearl
street. The rapid growth of the society led to its organization in Oc-
tober, 1859, under the present title, and in 1875 the site of the present
edifice was purchased, a new church built and dedicated February 14,
1877. The first pastor was Rev. Justin D. Fulton, the present being-
Rev. Thomas M, Eastwood.

Emmanuel Baptist church was organized in 1834 and bore the name
of the Pearl Street Baptist church until 1S71. The first pastor was
Rev. Bartholomew T. Welch, D. D., who had during the seven pre-
vious years preached to the First Baptist church, but was released from
that pulpit to form the new church, whose first edifice was erected on
North Pearl street and cost $46,000. In 1869-70 the present church
was built on the north side of vState street, between Swan and Dove
streets, and was dedicated in February, 1871, the tower being added in
1883, a gift from Mrs. Eli Perry in memory of her husband. The


entire church property cost about $220,000. Rev. Wallace Ruttrick is
the present pastor.

Calvary Baptist church was organized January 16, 1860, under the
name of Washington Avenue Baptist church, and was first under pas-
toral charge of Rev. Wm. P. Everett, but the i-apid early growth of the
congregation led them to purchase the church on Washington avenue
which had been built for the German Baptists, and February 4, 1865,
the society purchased the State street Baptist church building (corner
of High street), and took the present title. That building was occu-
pied until 1880 when it was demolished and the present edifice erected.
The State Street church, mentioned above, was organized in 1845, and
in the same year built the edifice which was finally sold to the Calvary
church. Rev. Joseph F. Elder is present pastor of the Calvary church.

The Washington avenue German Baptist church, situated on Wash-
ington avenue, was purchased in 1859, and sold within a few years to
the Roman Catholics. The first pastor was Rev. William P. Everett.

The German Baptist church, situated at No. 252 Washington avenue
was organized and the edifice built and dedicated in 1854. Rev. A.
Von Pattkammer was the first pastor. In 1892 a new front to the ed-
ifice was erected. Rev. A. M. Petersen is the present pastor.

Hope Baptist church, on Clinton avenue, originated in a mission,
and was regularly organized in 1891, when the present beautiful brick
edifice was erected and dedicated. Rev. Henry vS. Potter is pastor.

The organization of Roman Catholic churches in Albany followed
clo,sely upon the work of the Jesuit missionaries. On October C, 179C,
a meeting was held in Albany at the house of James Robichaux, where
an organization was effected which was soon followed by incorporation,
the certificate of which is on file in the county clerk's office and is signed
by Lewis Le Coulteaux and David McEvers, and is witnessed by Se-
bastian \'isscher and Archibald Yates. The first church edifice was
erected on the site of the present St. Mary's church, the corner stone
being laid in 1797 by Thomas Barry, then a prominent merchant. St.
Mary's is older than any other Roman Catholic parish in this State ex-
cepting St. Peter's in New York city. The entrance to the first St.
Mary's was on Pine street and the interior was about fifty feet square.
Among the early clergy who officiated over this congregation were Rev.
Fatjiers Thayer, Whelan, O'Brien, and La Valenure. Rev. D. Maho^
ney was here in 1806-7; Father James Buyshe in 1808; Father Hurley
in 1809; Father Weddin in 1810-11; Father O'Gorman in 1812-13. Others


served the parish from time to time until 1816. Father Charles Smith,
formerly a Methodist, was called and served the con'gregation until
1836. The first Roman Catholic Sunday school was formed in 1828.
The demolition of this first church building began September 14, 1829,
and the corner stone of a new edifice was laid on October 13, the church
being opened for service August 29, 1830. It fronted on Chapel street
and was entered by high steps, and contained a school room in the
basement. A dwelling on Lodge street adjoining the rear of the church
was used at first for an orphan asylum and afterwards as a rectory. In
1817, when the Diocese of Albany was set off from that of New York
Bishop McCloskey ruling over it became its first bishop, and St. Mary's
became his Cathedral. The edifice, while perhaps sufficient for the
period, was rather poorly constructed and did not long suffice for the
rapidly increasing congregation. Several priests succeeded Father
Smith as rectors for short periods until Bishop McCloskey's administra-
tion began in 1846, when he took charge in person, assisted by Fathers
Edgar P. Wadhams and Thomas Doran, until finally in September,
1866, Father Clarence A. Walworth began his long pastorate. Upon
his appointment it was apparent that a new church edifice was a neces-
sity. A new incorporation act was procured March 25, 1863, changing
the name of the church to St. Mary's Church of the City of Albany,
and all the property passed to the new trustees. A subscription for a
new edifice was started and the city conceded to the society twenty feet
of land on the eastern side of the site. Association Hall was tempo-
rarily occupied during the erection of the new edifice, the corner stone
of which was laid August 11, 1867. The structure was so far com-
pleted by February 16, 1868, that it was then used for services, and
was dedicated by Bishop Conroy March, 14, 1869. St. Mary's parish
originally included all that part of the Diocese of Albany lying in the
valleys of the Hudson and the Mohawk, but at the present time it is
only one of Albany's twelve parishes. In 1839 St. John's church on
South Ferry street was bought from the Episcopalians and all the south-
ern part of the city was set off to that parish. In 1843 the section of the
city north of Clinton avenue was constituted a third parish called St.
Joseph's and a new edifice was erected on the corner of North Pearl
and Lumber streets. Next followed the formation of a parish for the
new Cathedral, built in 1852 on Eagle street, which left St. Mary's lim-
ited on the south by Beaver and Lancaster streets; and finally, in 1858,
St. Patrick's parish was formed with a church on Central avenue, tak-


ing- from the old mother church the territory west of Knox street.
Since then St. Mary's parish has not been changed.

The corner stone of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was
laid July 2, 1848, by Archbishop Hughes, and on November 21, 1852,
the building was dedicated with imposing ceremonies. The cost of the
structure was $180,000. It is a magnificent building and its twin spires
attract attention from the east and south for a long distance, but mucli
still remained to be done to the structure when Bishop McCloskey suc-
ceeded to the archbishopric in 1864. Rt. Rev. John J. Conroy succeeded
Bishop McCloskey as bishop of Albany and filled the station twelve
years, and he was followed by Rt. Rev. Francis McNeirny on October
16, 1877. Under Bishop Conroy little was done on the cathedral, but
since his administration and under that of Bishop McNeirny, the in-
terior has been provided with a new chancel for which the apse was
extended thirty feet ; the seven bays beautifully decorated ; a reredos
of great beauty added to the transept ; handsome stained windows put
in, and new altars built. Bishop McNeirny died January 2, 1894, and
was succeeded on July 2, 1894, by Rt. Rev. T. M. A. Burke.

The diocese of Albany includes territory bounded on the north by the north line of
Warren county, and portions of Herkimer and Hamilton, north of the northern lines
of the townships of Ohio and Russia in Herkimer county; on the east by Massachu-
setts and Vermont; on the south by the southern line of Columbia, Greene and
Delaware counties ; on the west by the western line of Otsego and Herkimer and
part of Hamilton.

It has an estimated Catholic population of 130,000, ministered to by 159 priests.
It has ninety-two churches with resident pastors, and forty without ; forty-five chap-
els, eighty stations; eight academies, and select schools, with 1,300 pupils; thirty-
eight parochial schools with 13,000 pupils; seven orphan asylums; two homes for the
aged; two hospitals; two houses of the Good Shepherd.

St. John's Catholic church was founded in 1837, with Rev. J. Kelly
in charge, the first place of worship being on the corner of Herkimer
and Franklin streets, but, July 1, 1839, the present church, on the cor-
ner of South Ferry and Dallius streets, was purchased from St. Paul's
society. The parish has been at different periods in charge of priests
who were or became eminent in the church, among them the present
Bishop Ludden.

St. Joseph's Catholic church was organized in 1842 to meet the wants
of the residents in the northern part of the city, and measures were at
once adopted for the erection of a church edifice on the corner of North
Pearl and Lumber streets, the corner stone of which was laid July 25,




1843, and the building- consecrated May 7, 1843. The first regular pas-
tor was Father John J. Conroy, who was installed March 25, 1844, and
under whom the parish made rapid progress. He erected what is
known as the Girl's Orphan Asylum, on North Pearl street, built a
parochial residence, and established a school for both boy's and girls.
The church soor^ became inadequate for the congregation and a new
site was purchased, bounded by Ten Broeck, First, and Second streets,"
for $45,000. Ground was broken for the present edifice in the fall of
1855 and the corner stone was laid June 1, 1856, in which year the

Online LibraryAmasa J. (Amasa Junius) ParkerLandmarks of Albany County, New York → online text (page 35 of 138)