The only thing I knew about Albany prior to my arrival was it was the place my birth certificate came from. I was born in New Hartford, NY on the Utica city limits. We would pass the interstate signs for Albany on the way to Rhode Island. 55 years later I enter the New York State Capital for the first time. It was a dark night, but suddenly as I turned up State Street from the Thruway this huge Castle like Capitol erased all the darkness. I parked on State street in front of the impressive architecture of St. Peter's Church and thought this will be an easy connection. I was partially right. The sight symbolism was evident. The story of church and state a bit deeper.
This Capitol had a long road to it's present building. It took 32 years of construction 1867- 1899, 3 different architects to replace the first Capitol building in Albany after becoming the New York capital in 1797. Previous state capital locations were in New York City, Kingston, Hurley, and Poughkeepsie. New York's history as the Dutch colony of New Netherland is where it's church origins come from.
St. Peter's church was born as The Church of England's Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts. The Rev. Thomas Barclay arrived in Albany in 1704 and his primary ministry was directed to the Iroquois tribes and the British garrison. This lead to the building of the first Anglican church in Albany in 1716. Two more churches replaced the original in 1803 and 1859. This is where St. Peter's Episcopal church stands now.
I did not see The First Church in Albany which was a few blocks NE of the Capitol. It was founded in 1642 and is the oldest church in Upstate New York. The Dutch fur trading post of Fort Orange was incorporated as Beverwijck ("Beavertown) in 1652 and named Albany in 1664. In 1689 this Church begins mission to Mohawk Indians, continues until 1738; 332 Indians are baptized by 1763. In 1720 Church is incorporated as the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church in the City of Albany. Long Church names were clearly the rage in the early 1700's. 1938 brought a merger with other churches and a simple name. The First Church of Albany. A summer Drive -in service began in 1974 and by all accounts seems to be quite healthy almost 380 years later.
It was time to cross the Hudson river and head to New England where history drips off the mountains and into the sea. I'll see you in the next chapter played out in the Green Mountain state.