a little on the unusual side to find two churches identical in construction
and located in widely separated parts of the
the author discovered this similarity between the Church of the Good Shepherd,
on St. Hubert's Isle at Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks, and the Church of
Our Saviour, on St. John's River in Mandarin, Florida.
churches, constructed from the same set of plans, have interesting historical
backgrounds. Each is associated
with a notable personage in American history.
Florida, the person was Harriet Beecher Stowe - author of "Uncle Tom's
Cabin" and one of the great figures of pre-Civil War days; in the
Adirondacks, the person was William West Durant -
son of the railroad magnate, world
traveler, builder of one of the first artistic camps in the area, and the man
who brought more publicity to the mountains than any other individual.
William's on Long Point Raquette Lake NY
LAKE actually boasts of two unusual churches where the only access is by
water. Besides the Episcopal
Church of the Good Shepherd, there is St. William's Roman Catholic Church,
which was built on Long Point. In
the early days of these churches, as of now, both congregations arrived by boat.
2004, it was discovered that all three churches were designed by Josiah
Cleveland Cady (1837-1919), who was also the architect of the original Metropolitan
Opera House, the American Museum of Natural History and 15 buildings at Yale
as well as many churches, including one at the
Virginia Hampton Institute, the first college for Native and
William's - the gift of William West Durant - was dedicated about 1890.
The Church of the Good Shepherd was dedicated 10 years previously, in
1880. The latter was also erected
largely through the generosity of Durant, who also supplied the construction
contributors included the J. Harvey Ladew family, long-time summer residents
of Raquette Lake; the Francis H. Stott family of Stottville, NY, whose daughter
Janet Lathrop Stott was married to Durant in 1884; and Connecticut Governor Phineas C.
"Skeeter" on left
were the days of great social prominence for Raquette Lake, and the islands
and shores were studded with the camps of many famous persons.
Among them were the island camp of Horace Inman and the camp of
publisher Robert J. Collier, home of one of the first speedboats in the
Adirondacks. Collier and his 60
hp "Skeeter," now on display in the Adirondack Museum, would do 25
miles per hour - a fantastic speed in those days!
of these and many other persons, there was much social life on the lake.
Before long, the church on St. Hubert's Isle became the setting of the
cannon from Bluff Point, now at Adirondack Museum
unusual feature of this church was the method of summoning the congregation to
services. Each Sunday a brass
cannon was fired, and the residents set out in small steamers, launches, guide
boats, and canoes for St. Hubert's Isle.
It was said to have been a great sight watching the many landings on
the crowded shore. This same
cannon, incidentally, also is on display at the museum.
island church was served from 1894 to 1941 by the Rev. William Brown-Serman
and the Rev. Stanley Brown-Serman.
It was just five years after the dedication of this church that the
first rector of the Good Shepherd, the Rev. Montgomery H.
Throop II founded the Church of the Transfiguration (Episcopal) at
Blue Mountain Lake as a mission. This
1885 church, we shall see, also played a role in the story of the twin
Estey pump organ Raquette Lake
at the island church, however, that Dr. Anthony Evans, the noted organist,
played during the summer. On
Sunday evenings he would visit the Echo Camp cottage of Governor Lounsbury’s
daughter - Mrs. Griffith - where he thrilled all present with his singing of
learn more about William West Durant, the great benefactor of Raquette Lake
and the Adirondacks, we should know of his father, Dr. Thomas C. Durant, an
early railroad entrepreneur in the United States.
Doctor Durant was a graduate of Albany Medical College, but never
practiced. Instead, he became the
builder of many of the early railroads in the mid-west.
Durant was called to Washington at the outbreak of the Civil War by President
Lincoln to oversee construction of the Union Pacific Railroad, which was
chartered by Congress in 1862. With
Durant as engineer in charge, the first rails were laid at Council Bluffs,
Iowa, for the eastern terminus.
the completion of the Union Pacific, Doctor Durant returned to Albany where he
became interested in a new railroad venture.
He became president of the Adirondack Company that succeeded the
Sackett's Harbor and Saratoga Railroad. The
latter had been chartered in 1848 by the New York State Legislature.
Durant brought with him two former Union Pacific associates.
One of them, Henry Caleb Crane of Yonkers, NY, became treasurer and later
played a part in the history of the Florida church.
the doctor's death in 1885, William West Durant inherited a vast Adirondack empire,
which at one time embraced over 500,000 acres in Essex, Herkimer, Franklin and
Hamilton Counties. In 1889,
Durant sold his father's railroad to the Delaware & Hudson Railroad
Company and became free to follow his heart's desire.
Durant had begun building the first Artistic camp in the North Woods. The style he inaugurated was somewhat of the Swiss chalet
type, and it made an immediate hit with the wealthy.
The camps usually had the background of a lovely Adirondack lake.
They were built of huge white pine logs, with the bark left on the
outside. Inside, the facing of
the grain was 'smooth and varnished.'
these famous camps are still in existence, such as "Uncas" on Lake
Mohegan that became the J. Pierpont Morgan camp; "Camp Sagamore" on
Sumner Lake, once the property of the Vanderbilts and now owned by Syracuse
University; "Kamp Kill Kare" built for Lt. Gov. Timothy Woodruff of
New York State and later sold to Francis Garvan; and the famous "Camp
Pine Knot" on Raquette Lake, the home of the Durants.
also headed the group that made possible the construction of the island Church
of the Good Shepherd and its presentation to the Albany Diocese.
Durant also built the first rectory on the island in 1882 and presented
it to the church.
rectory was built by the Brown-Serman family in 1914 [Correction - the original
burned down in 1914 and the present one was built in 1918] and is now occupied by
the Rev. Ralph Carmichael, priest-in-charge of the Church of the
Transfiguration at Blue Mt. Lake.
He recently acquired the church property and the rectory, and both will
be maintained as an historic place of Adirondack heritage.
WHAT OF the second twin church in Mandarin, Florida? This location on the St.
John’s River is one of the loveliest spots in Florida. The Church of Our Saviour was made possible by the help
of Durant and the Crane family of Blue Mt. Lake.
lies beside the St. John's River in America.
Here the ancient Timucuan Indians (800-1763) built the first village at the site.
They were followed by the Franciscan Fathers from the convent at St.
Augustine, who founded a mission there.
was here near the mission that the descendants of the Timucuan Indians had planted orange seeds
imported from Spain. Later,
when Florida passed into the possession of the English, orange plantations
were developed and the "Mandarin" orange came into favor.
It was here, too, that Harriet Beecher Stowe came in the year 1867.
famous authoress was married to a Presbyterian Divine who held a professorship
in a small Ohio college. But the
health of Professor Stowe was not of the best, and his salary modest.
In order to make ends meet and to support a growing family, Harriet
began writing to augment their income.
returned to Brunswick, Maine, and began her famous book, "Uncle Tom's
Cabin." Here she wrote
during cold and bitter winter nights, huddled in front of a fireplace with her
face scorched and her back a chunk of ice.
"Uncle Tom" brought undying fame and considerable wealth to
her in the North, but he also brought great wrath in the South.
son, Frederick, was badly wounded at the battle of Gettysburg.
His wounds did not heal and he looked to alcohol to assuage his pain.
In order to get her son away from the saloons, Harriet and her family
came to Florida in 1867, after the Civil War ended.
Steamer Keystone on St. John's
Fishhawk on St. John's
came by boat to Jacksonville, then took a river steamer down the St. John's
River. Harriet leased a cotton
plantation - named Laurel Grove - on the banks of the St. John's in the hope
that the outdoor life would help Frederick.
This hope faded, however.
bought an orange plantation grove at Mandarin.
This riverside grove also had live oaks that measured 25 feet around
the trunk. Flowers were profuse, and Mandarin was then, as it is today,
one of the garden spots of Florida.
the neighbors of the Stowes were the Henry C. Cranes, who told of their summer
place at Blue Mt. Lake. The
families became close friends and the Stowes often sailed the Crane boat down
the river. Though her name was
anathema in the South, Harriet continued to write for Northern papers. She
was one of the first authors to publicize Florida.
She soon won the hearts of Florida neighbors and was generous with her
purse to local needs.
Stowe, meanwhile, was conducting Sunday meetings in an old schoolhouse: in the
mornings for the Negroes and in the afternoons for the whites.
Harriet became interested in providing a church for the community, but
the residents were at a loss for plans to build one.
Harriet mentioned this problem to the Cranes in the presence of one of
their guests - William West Durant.
her he might be of help and described the Church of the Good Shepherd.
He wrote to Raquette Lake to get the original plans and made some slight
modifications for the new church.
Our Saviour Mandarin Florida
Church of Our Saviour was dedicated in 1884, four years after the island church
it was modeled after. The Stowes
were Presbyterians, but Harriet was instrumental in having this church become
Episcopal since most of her Mandarin neighbors were Anglican Church
VISITED Mandarin some years ago, we were struck by the resemblance of this
church to the one at Raquette Lake, but a search of Northern records failed to
turn up any connection. The
facts were discovered in Florida only last winter.
there, too, that another coincidence caught the eye.
The stained glass windows of the Florida church seemed markedly similar
to those in the Blue Mt. Lake church. We
discovered that the windows for both churches were made by the Tiffany studios
in New York City.
large window in the Mandarin church is a memorial to Professor and Harriet
Beecher Stowe that depicts a scene of the St. John's River at sunset. The similar window of the Blue Mountain church is a mountain
scene with a religious motif.
windows are of a special construction no longer duplicated - in fact they are
irreplaceable. Mr. Tiffany himself
was the main donor of the Stowe window. Mr.
Crane, a member of the first vestry of the Blue Mt. Lake church, was the main
donor for his church windows.
casual visitor would never suspect a link of friendship stretched all the way
down the nation's east coast to help create a church in Florida.
Yet, any balmy winter day in Mandarin, the Rev. George Young, Jr., may
look down on his congregation knowing that they share an unusual bond of
friendship with others enjoying the real winter at Raquette Lake.