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The History of the Cathedral of All Saints Location in Albany, Research Paper Example

Pages: 7

Words: 1821

Research Paper

Albany’s Cathedral of All Saints. The Albany Episcopal Diocese’s main church and Bishop’s residence (Jeffery 118). Gibson’s Gothic-style building was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1974. This property was designated in the Lafayette Park Historic District in 1970. It is known as the Pioneer Cathedral since it was the first Episcopal Cathedral built to house a bishop in the United States (Jeffery 118). In the early 1900s, the church could not finish the Cathedral and planned complex. It will never be finished since the State Education Commissioner built his office on the other half of the block. But spires and other projected expansions’ foundations remain.

The Cathedral is near Elk and South Swan. Sheridan Hollow and Arbor Hill lie north of here, east of the Hudson (Jeffery 118). This historic district in Albany houses the Cathedral’s 8100 m2 (2 acres) grounds. Large state government buildings flank the church on three sides. On the National Register is the neoclassical State Education Department Building. The state capitol is an NHL. Across the street is the State Department. The Alfred E. Smith State Office Building is a 34-story landmark in Center Square/Hudson Park (Jeffery 118). The Elk is mostly a parking area with a few row houses. The Cathedral has transepts and squared-off ends. Split Potsdam sandstone dominates, with brownstone accents. The day should conclude east. Le Sud-Ouest and a lot to unusually, the Cathedral and SED share a brick chapter house. The Cathedral’s front is composed of East Longmeadow brownstone. Seven-foot-wide stone columns divide the nave into two side aisles (Jeffery 118). The building’s six large stained glass windows and clerestory windows let in plenty of natural light. Work by Clayton & Bell, LaFarge, and other stained-glass artisans adorns this historic edifice. The choir area, sanctuary, and two side chapels have mosaic tile flooring (Jeffery 118). Concrete and steel girders support it. The rood screen is made of iron and brass. Ornate sculptures adorn stall backs. A polychrome reredos with carved niches follows.

William Croswell Doane was chosen Bishop of Albany in 1869. He labored tirelessly for years to fundraise and maintain the Cathedral of All Saints (Lane 199). Until then, no American Episcopal diocese had an Episcopal cathedral for worship. Most had seen the diocese’s largest church. Father George Washington Doane of Burlington, NJ, commissioned it to build St. Mary’s Cathedral (Rodin 23). Smaller than English parish churches. Upjohn also designed St. Peter’s Church in Albany.) Albany, NY architect Doane designed a church, a hospital, and a school (Lane 199). A few years later, he erected the Cathedral in this disused machine shop. It began in 1874. Erastus Corning donated the land. Doane said a design competition would be held after the site was acquired. The Bishop chose Robert W. Gibson as the winner in 1882. (Lane 199). The unknown architect’s idea was better than Henry Hobson Richardson’s. Richardson was disappointed when he realized his design had been rejected (Rodin 23). Despite appearing to reject Doane’s demands, he built the Cathedral, say, architectural historians.

Doane liked Gibson’s design. Gibson, 29, had just arrived in America from England, where he grew up in an Oxford Movement-influenced Episcopal family (Lane 200). Meanwhile, other architects experimented with steel and brick in order to create a Gothic-style building in the English Gothic style, which was popular with the Oxfordians at the time. By restricting the windows, Gibson was able to adapt his design to the harsh winters of Albany.

The building’s construction began in 1884. T.R., Leland Stanford, and Grover Cleveland (Lane 200). Construction took a long time to begin. Unlike most Europeans, Gibson wanted the building fully operating as soon as possible. The triforium supported the roof and 40 feet of sidewalls. Louis Hinton of England carved the inside of the Cathedral in 1891(Rodin 23). John LaFarge and London’s Clayton and Bell designed the west wall rose window (Lane 200). A 17th-century church in Bruges, Belgium, preserves the carved choir chairs. In 1888, the Cathedral of All Saints was consecrated as a place of worship. It was kept in use by the diocese and church even after the main edifice was completed (Rodin 27). It was finished in the early 1900s. The clerestory was built in 1909 when the ceiling was completed. Doane’s friend J. Pierpont Morgan contributed heavily to the building’s development (Lane 200).

A mother-church complex, as envisioned by Doane, has long since disappeared. In fact, he had not purchased every property in the block. Andrew S. Draper, the first commissioner of education, purchased the other properties on Washington Avenue in 1906. (Rodin 25). Doane’s facility would have a departmental headquarters regardless of his designs. In Doane’s case, he had no choice but to sell his land. But Draper became an adversary because he tried to limit the number of stories in the new format. The commissioner could build each story as tall as he wanted (Rodin 25). The 1913 government building blocked much of the city’s view of the Cathedral. Draper and Doane died soon after.

The Cathedral will always remain unfinished. Two foundations remain for Gibson’s 210-foot (64-meter) eastern spires (Rodin 24). With the exception of a few commemorative stained glass windows, the Cathedral’s spires were never completed in 1948, and asphalt shingles replaced the original wood shakes. The next decade saw most of the work. The heating system was improved, and the old wood on the nave floor was replaced. The basement also housed a multi-purpose room and a Sunday school room (Rodin 23). The west entrance was erected in 1971 with Potsdam sandstone and Indiana limestone. After 30 years, the shingles had to be changed again. The building’s design has not been altered.

Alice Morgan Wright, St. Agnes School

Bishop Doane established St. Agnes’ School in 1870, and Alice Morgan Wright (1881-1975) graduated from it in 1903 (Seaman 937). Wright’s State Street mansion, designed by Gibson for Wright’s father, was frequently visited by Eleanor Roosevelt, who was a close friend. During the women’s rights movement, Wright rose to prominence as one of the American League of Women Voters’ founding members (Seaman 937). Wright, a significant sculptor, participated in the contentious 1912 New York Armory Show and had a significant impact on American cubism. Throughout her adulthood, she became an outspoken supporter of animal rights.

Morgan and Corning, Philanthropists of the Gilded Age

Bishop Doane entrusted Erastus Corning with securing the property for the Cathedral while he was away in Europe in 1908. Still, the NY State Education Building was built around it instead, decreasing the Cathedral’s original footprint. J. P. Morgan, Doane’s close friend, sponsored much of the Cathedral’s interior work (Shelby 400). A memorial donation was made by another Gilded Age figure or two. Mark Twain used the term “Gilded Age” to characterize a period from the 1870s to the early 1900s when newly acquired affluence of a select few was utilized to cover the social problems that plagued the rest of society (Shelby 400). The Cathedral of All Saints was designed to magnify God through art and service, with those who wished to be remembered not merely for their wealth but also for their charity, love of God, and support for the arts, contributing to its creation (Shelby 400).

George Hinton (left) and Spencer Trask are two artists (right)

The Cathedral’s pillars, altars, baptistery, and other memorials were carved by George Hinton, the great western staircase stonemason from the New York State Capitol Building (Shelby 400). He is said to have worked on the interior for 40 years with only his son as assistance. As the celebrants and servers make their way to the high altar for today’s Mass, they pass by a pillar facing the sacristy with two magnificently carved wheat stem memorials to Hinton’s other children. J.P. Morgan is claimed to have contributed to the completion of the choir, which is the area around the high altar (Shelby 400). Spencer Trask, the railroad mogul, NY Times chairman, and philanthropist, donated the original woodwork of a 17th-century Belgian church to the choir in honor of his baby boy Alanson (Thompson 73). Trask and Katrina Nichols Trask’s four children have all died. Yaddo, their Saratoga Springs home, was converted into an artists’ residency when both of them died (Thompson 73). We cannot deem it fit to confine to one person since God, in His infinite wisdom, saw fit to take all of our children to a larger area……” (Thompson 73). The young people’s tributes in the Cathedral, on the other hand, appear to reflect this emotion.

To Mayors, Governors, and Presidents: Carved memorials to children, as well as those of several New York State governors, such as Throop, Fish, Seymour, and Dix, adorn the Cathedral’s pillars. During FDR’s stint as governor of New York, the Cathedral was home to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Nelson Rockefeller (Thompson 73). The Cathedral’s altar guild included Mayor Erastus Corning II and his wife, Elizabeth.

In conclusion, the Cathedral of All Saints was built to accommodate as many tourists as possible, both now and in the past. Its tale is made up of many personal stories of ambition, tragedy, love, and faith. It is a gift to the residents of Albany and visitors alike, thanks to the generosity and hard effort of many people over the years who have kept it in its beautiful Gothic Revival and partially completed state (Thompson 73). The Cathedral is still a worship site, but it is also a gathering place for the community and where the arts are celebrated. While the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys has been singing continuously since 1872 and continues to perform choral services and concerts to this day, its artistic mission is also expressed through new initiatives like Cathedral in Bloom, the Capitol Region’s newest premier flower show, and other Cathedral Arts projects (Thompson 73).

Works Cited

Jeffery, Paul. “Originals or Apprentice Copies? Some Recently Found Drawings For St. Paul’s Cathedral, All Saints, Oxford And The City Churches”. Architectural History, vol 35, 1992, p. 118. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/1568573.

Lane, Jonathan. “Review: The Construction of Gothic Cathedrals, A Study Of Medieval Vault Erection By John Fitchen”. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, vol 20, no. 4, 1961, pp. 199-200. University Of California Press, https://doi.org/10.2307/988046.

Rodin, Krista. “Reaching To Heaven: Similarities between Early French Gothic Cathedrals and Medieval Bagan Temples”. The International Journal of Arts Theory and History, vol 11, no. 2, 2016, pp. 23-27. Common Ground Research Networks, https://doi.org/10.18848/2326-9952/cgp/v11i02/23-27.

Seaman, Gerald, and Robert A. Scott. “The Gothic Enterprise: A Guide to Understanding the Medieval Cathedral”. The Sixteenth Century Journal, vol 36, no. 3, 2005, p. 937. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/20477569.

Shelby, L. R., and John Fitchen. “The Construction of Gothic Cathedrals: A Study of Medieval Vault Erection”. Technology and Culture, vol 2, no. 4, 1961, p. 400. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/3100895.

Thompson, Paul. “All Saints’ Church, Margaret Street, Reconsidered”. Architectural History, vol 8, 1965, p. 73. JSTOR, https://doi.org/10.2307/1568272.

Ziegler, Robert. “Romancing the Cathedral: Gothic Architecture in Fin-De-Siecle French Culture (Review)”. Nineteenth Century French Studies, vol 31, no. 1, 2002, pp. 151-153. Project Muse, https://doi.org/10.1353/ncf.2002.0070.

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