An Historic Place of Worship
Since 1804 St Paul's Church has been a presence in downtown Troy; for over 200 years the parish has been a center for Christian worship, education, outreach, and music. The present building stands on the second site the parish has occupied. Built in 1827, when the congregation had outgrown its first home, the church is one of three erected from the same set of plans by Ithiel Town, and its exterior remains true to its original appearance.
The interior of St. Paul's is a very special place of worship. To see the East window on a sunny morning is to feel a real sense of the glory of God. The rich stained glass colors in robes and wings, the calm faces, fill the church with warm light and draw the eye upward to the trefoil symbol of the Trinity as surely as in any cathedral.
In 1800, there was no Episcopal Church in the thriving community, which not too long since had changed its name from Ashley's Ferry to the more classical-sounding Troy. The arrival of Eliakim Warren and his three sons from Connecticut, and of the Rev. David Butler,who had been sent as a missionary to these then distant parts, provided a natural answer to that lack in the establishment of St. Paul's. Trinity Church in New York made a grant of moneys to help the new parish build its home. With Dr. Butler as its first rector, the new church began a long period of growth and influence in the city.
Moving to Third and State
The first building went up in 1804 on the corner of Third and Congress streets. By 1826, the parish had outgrown it and three lots for a larger church were purchased on the corner of Third and State. All too soon, unexpected structural problems appeared, and a fund began for their correction. By the 1890s, things had become alarming, and the building finally underwent a major structural job to restore its strength.
This was the beginning of the brilliant interior we worship in. It happened that Dr. Enos, rector at that time, had just returned from a glorious holiday touring the Gothic churches of southern Europe. After consulting with a civil engineer, an architect, and a builder, the church fathers were persuaded to engage the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company, then in its heyday, whose interest in Sicilian-Gothic was especially keen, to design the new interior. Among Tiffany's experts was J.A. Holzer, an artist renowned for his mosaic work as well as stained glass. The East window is one of his masterpieces. His creative work is also evidenced in the baptistery, where exuberant mosaic figures light up an otherwise dark corner of the church. The Tiffany windows cast subdued brightness on pulpit and lectern, woodwork and jeweled lamps. Other windows, by Cox and Sons of London, the Lamb Studio of New Jersey, and a Boston firm, relate harmoniously to those of Tiffany's Holzer.
Our Austin Organ
Music has always been an integral part of worship at St. Paul's. Mention of a choir and congregational music appear all through the church records. In 1818, it was noted that St. Paul's had the only organ in Troy, and the church had the first, and longest-lived vested choir of men and boys in the city. Today's main organ in the chancel was installed in 1921 by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut (4 manuals and pedal, 54 ranks) as a memorial to his mother by C.W. Tillinghast Barker. Under the leadership of an exceptional organist-choirmaster, the St. Paul's Choristers at present are a mixed chorus of about 20 voices, singing both for Sunday worship and at a variety of special services and concerts throughout the year.