History

Greeley Family Origins

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The Church of St. Mary the Virgin was originally built as a private chapel in memory of Muriel Gwendolen Clendenin, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Frank Montrose and Mrs. Gabrielle Greeley Clendenin, daughter of Horace Greeley. The fourth child of Father and Mrs. Clendenin, Muriel was born on October 9, 1898 and died of poliomyelitis at the age of five. Father Clendenin built a chapel at his own expense on four acres of land Mrs. Clendenin had inherited from Horace Greeley that she donated for the purpose. Ground breaking was on July 4, 1904, and the chapel was consecrated on June 21, 1906. The family is buried in the private cemetery at the rear of the church.

 

The chapel became a mission under the Diocese of New York in 1913, and on March 22, 1916, Father and Mrs. Clendenin transferred title to the church and land to the Diocese. The church was incorporated as a parish in 1943 and admitted into union with the Diocesan Convention in 1944.

 

In 1919 the interior of the church, particularly transepts, chancel, and altar, was gutted by a fire originating in an overheated furnace in the basement. Before the fire the transepts had been closed off with paneled screens and a baldachin suspended over the altar by ten-foot pillars within the sanctuary. After the fire this was replaced with a large pulpit at the opening to the north transept and an altar rail and prayer stalls on each side of the entrance to the sanctuary. The pulpit was removed in the late 1930’s, but the altar rail and prayer stalls remained until the sanctuary was again redesigned in 1982. At that time the large masonry altar was removed and replaced with a free-standing wooden altar. The stone altar became the outdoor altar on the hillside behind the church, in the area known as Greeley Grove.

 

St. Mary’s has been the beneficiary of many special gifts as Thank Offerings and Memorials, starting with the gift of the church itself by the Clendenins. Other gifts include the bells, the baptistery, and several stained-glass windows, including the Norseen window set in the sanctuary, the Heilman window in the north transept, the Saints Peter and Paul windows in the sanctuary, the small windows to the right at the entrance to the church, and the baptistery windows.

 

Researched & written by Ken White, Sr., Parish Historian

Monken Hadley, England

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The Church of St. Mary the Virgin was designed from photographs and descriptions of the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in Monken Hadley, Middlesex, England. The English church’s charter dates back to 1162, and it was rebuilt in its present form in about 1494. An ancient window from the original English church was given to the Chappaqua church in 1906. It is now incorporated with the stained-glass window in the north transept.

 

Researched & written by Ken White, Sr., Parish Historian

 

Centennial Celebration

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In recent years St. Mary’s has been proud to celebrate the centennial of two important occasions in its history.

 

On September 29, 2004 St. Mary’s held a Festival Eucharist to commemorate the 1904 laying of the Church’s cornerstone, with the Right Reverend Mark Sisk, Bishop of New York, officiating. A reception followed the service.

 

Another Festival Eucharist, this time presided by the Right Reverend E. Don Taylor, Vicar Bishop of New York, was held on June 21, 2006 to celebrate the Centennial of the actual consecration of the Church. Portions of the liturgy were adapted from the original Service of Dedication and Consecration held exactly a century earlier. A reception catered by Susan Lawrence was held in the Parish House after the service.

 

2019 Monken Hadley Visit & "Virtual Tea"

 

In November 2019 our sister church of St. Mary the Virgin in Monken Hadley, North London, celebrated the 525th anniversary of its restoration in 1494. In commemoration the church presented a Gala Son et Lumière 525 Live event combining live action, video, sound and light, culminating in lighting the signal beacon that sits atop the church.

Three of our own parishioners, Durrie Golding, Mary Dierdorff, and Chris Maxfield, attended this festive evening. On a special Zoom call on December 13, 2020, they discussed the show with members of our church and shared highlights and photos from their visit, followed by an informal "Virtual Tea." Consolidating links between the two sister churches, several members of the Monken Hadley parish also attended the Zoom call and tea.

 

Please click on the links below to access videos of the Monken Hadley event. 

     525 Live (DVD 1)     #1 is the actual 525 Live Show, including actors portraying "Ladies of Chappaqua" !

     525 Live (DVD 2)     #2 shows the lighting of the church beacon, running time 12:7

     525 Live (DVD 3)     #3 shows "The Making of 525 Live", running time 7:52