History of Pratt Hall

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     Pictures and below are excerpted from the “Anniversary, Directory, and History of St. Matthews Church (Enosburg Falls), Calvary Church (East Berkshire) and St. Bartholomews Church, (Montgomery)” on account of their 60th Anniversaries’
Dated 1934

Accession Number 94-196

St. Bartholomew's Church, Montgomery, Vt.

BEGINNINGS are always interesting and the beginning of the life of the Church in Montgomery is no exception. In going through the diocesan records we find that the first service of the Church was held in this town in the early days of the 19th century by the Rev. Mr. Farewell, who spent some time in this part of the State. Mr. Joel Clapp, the son of Capt. Joshua Clapp, an officer of the revolution and the first permanent settler, was one of those baptized by Mr. Farewell and later entered the ministry, so that before there was an organization here at all, one of the sons of the future parish heard and answered the call to the priesthood. Before his ordination Mr. Clapp acted as lay-reader in the place and after him the services were continued by Captain Rufus Smith whenever there was no clergyman to officiate. In 1819 seventeen persons met and formed a church society and on the 17th of May that same year another meeting was held when the organization was completed by the election of Wardens and Vestrymen.

The first Episcopal visitation recorded is that of Bishop Griswold, who visited Montgomery June, 1821, and preached from the steps of Capt. Joshua Clapp's house, to a goodly number of people assembled in and about the house, and for the first time the rite of Confirmation was administered in Montgomery. Bishop Griswold has left this record of his visit: "In no place have I been, where there appeared a more serious and awakened desire to know and do the will of God; nor where the people are so generally disposed to receive the doctrines of the Church."

Montgomery is first mentioned in the proceedings of the Convention held in June, 1822, just 112 years ago, when 7 baptisms were reported and 2 burials. The parish at that time consisted of 14 families and 27 communicants

On October 27, 1827, the people met to devise plans for erecting a Church edifice, but it was not until after long years of labor and sacrifice, perseverance and devotion that it was completed, and consecrated by Bishop Hopkins on January 22, 1835. Its cost was $3000 and the Rector then was the Rev. Louis McDonald. Before him the parish was cared for by the Rev. Richard Peck, whose name first appears on the records of 1828. In his report to the Convention of 1831, he notes. "These churches have recently experienced a season of refreshing from the Lord." There have been 13 Baptisms and 18 Confirmations during the year and his Sunday School had a membership of 50.

In the address of Bishop Hopkins to the Convention of 1833 we find this interesting note: "In the afternoon, Jan. 24th, we rode to Montgomery, another of Mr. Peck's parishes, where I preached in the schoolhouse and confirmed 6 persons. The house was crowded, and the congregation much engaged. There is a frame church erected here, but not yet finished. It is much to be desired that they may be enabled to complete it during the present season." Again, in 1835, the Bishop reported to the Convention: "Thurs., Jan. 22nd, I had the gratification of consecrating the new building at Montgomery, by the name of Union Church; a very praiseworthy proof of the perseverance and devotion of that society."

The reports of the Rector and the Vestry as made to the Convention year after year contain many interesting notes and sidelights upon the times. "The present minister, the Rev. J. Obear, has preached in this parish every third Sunday, since the 1st of July, 1837. The congregation is respectable and rather increasing. The service of the church is regularly performed by lay-members in his absence,"

1847. "The congregation is noted for firmness and regularity, for disregarding the commonplaces of the seasons, and for their attachment to the Church and Church principles. Lay-reading and the Sunday School are regularly sustained when the rector is absent, by zealous and efficient churchmen, who, in no instance for the last 20 years have allowed their Church to remain locked upon the Holy Sabbath. The ladies of the parish have purchased a carpet and two chairs for the Church and a lectern was obtained by a gift. Union and harmony prevailed throughout the past year and nothing has occurred to mar or disturb the friendly intercourse between rector and people."

In 1849 the Church was newly shingled and partly repainted. In 1850 the congregation averaged 100 and there were 63 communicants. A few years previous 76 communicants had been reported.

One of the rectors whose ministry covered a fairly long period of 15 years was the Rev. Frederick A. Wadleigh. During his rectorship the parish was in a flourishing condition and services were also held at Montgomery Centre. In one of his reports to Convention he writes:
"If good and attentive congregations, and a kind regard to the wants and wishes of their Rector constitute a favorable omen, then may we hope, with the blessing of God for good success. The donations of his two parishes have been so liberal that the extraordinary burdens of the times have been materially alleviated." Even in those flourishing days the services were conducted on alternate Sundays by a lay-reader.

The years '70 and '71 saw the Church closed on account of repairs but services were held in the Methodist chapel when it was not in use. The rector reports: "The energies of the Church have been somewhat enfeebled by the want of a" suitable place of worship, although this difficulty has been alleviated as much as possible by the kindness of our Methodist brethren, in lending the use of their own Church, and in a very general attendance upon our services. The repairs of our own Church edifice are now rapidly approaching completion. In these repairs we have been largely aided. Special acknowledgments are due to the late Hon. Wm. Clapp of St. Albans, for a tower clock, and to Wm. B. Clapp of Chicago. for a bell."

The next year, '72, the following comment is made by Bishop Bissell in his Convention address: "The Church at Montgomery has been quite renewed. at an expense of $3,000. Instead of the old unsightly edifice, here is now a beautiful and very convenient Church, very creditable to the congregation."

The next year the Bishop speaks of a beautiful chancel window by which the Church in Montgomery has been enriched. a memorial to the Rev. Dr. Joel Clapp. "one of those devoted men to whose missionary labor's at an early day this diocese and many of its present parishes are largely indebted." Well might Dr. Clapp be called the first fruits of the parish of Montgomery. Of him the rector writes: "During a rectorship of four years he laid the foundation of whatever temporal and spiritual prosperity the parish has since enjoyed. It was also his last charge.
It was fitting, therefore, that here should be placed a memorial both of his worth and of the esteem in which he was held by his friends."

In 1874 another memorial window was added to the Church by the family of the late Hon. Rufus Hamilton, sometime Senior Warden. The Church was consecrated on October 1, 1874. by Bishop Bissell.

The Rev. Mr. Wadleigh's rectorship ended in 1879 and after being vacant for a year the Rev. Wm. Westover became rector. His stay in the parish was very brief as was that of most of his successors. The number of communicants stays in the neighborhood of 50 and the Church seems fairly active and prosperous. The ladies of the parish raise money for the purchase of a font and later a new $100 organ is added to the Church together with an Episcopal chair and a dossel for the chancel.

It has been said of those early women of the Church at Montgomery: "They were of strong and investigating minds, of rare ability and extensive information, well versed in the doctrines of the Church, which they believed to be a divine institution, manifesting their devotion to the same by constant attendance upon its services. By their consistent life. and godly example, they left a reputation long to be remembered. Their descendants have followed their example in their love for the Church with a high and just" appreciation of its ordinances."

(Page 22)

After 1882 there was a period of time when there was no rector at Calvary Church, and the whole district was under the supervision of the Rector of St. Ann's, Richford, and later of St. Matthew's, Enosburg.

By 1890 there is a decided decrease in the number of communicants and in March, 1897, steps were taken to change the name of the Church from that of "Union Church" to its present name "St. Batholomew's."

The organ in the Church was obtained through efforts of C. Fuller Rawson. who played it for years, and with Mrs. Fred Rawson, maintained a fine choir.  Mr. Rawson has played at the Old Home Sundays every Sunday, except once, since they were inaugurated about 1920.

The memorial windows in the Church are of very fine quality and color. The chancel window. Christ blessing the little children, in the center, surrounded by many sacred emblems, the font, chalice and paten, etc., is in memory of Rev. Joel Clapp, who for forty years endured toilsome missionary work with great cheerfulness.-One showing the Risen Christ appearing to Mary, is in memory ot Salva Goodspeed, and Sarshena Luceba, his wife, parents of Nelson Goodspeed, who left the present endowment of the Church.-One showing both Simeon and Anna, is in memory of Joshua Clapp and his wife, who for fifty years read both Morning and Evening Prayer, in the absence of a clergyman-while others are in memory of Rufus Hamilton. and Eliza Clapp, his wife-the Rev. Caleb Clapp, brother of Joel, and John Henry Hopkins Head (named after the Bishop), and Jane C. Head, children of Isaac and Clarissa Head.

Mrs. Eliza E. Parker is the present custodian.

(This historical account was prepared by Rev. Jas. E. McKee.)



TIMELINE

1807: First Episcopal Service is held in Montgomery by the Rev Farewell.

1819: First formal Episcopal society is formed and the Rev Joel Clapp becomes the first minister.

1821: The Episcopal Bishop makes first visitation to Montgomery

1833: Building gets underway on an Episcopal church.

1835: Building is completed and the Church is consecrated as Union Church by Bishop John Henry Hopkins.  The Rev Louis McDonald is installed as the first rector.

1837: The Rev. J. Obear becomes rector, enjoying an increasing congregation.

1847: The congregation is noted for firmness and regularity in a convention report. Gifts of a carpet, two chairs, and a lectern are made by the ladies.

1840: The building is newly shingled and partly repainted.

1850: Congregation averages 100 with 63 communicants.

1864: The Rev. Frederick A Wadleigh begins a 15-year rectorship that spanned a period of flourishing membership, additional services in the Center, and liberal donations from parishioners.

1871-2: Church is closed for repairs costing $3,000. Parishioners meet at the Methodist Church during the renovations. Improvements include the tower clock, from an endowment by the Hon William Clapp of St Albans, a bell, donated by William B. Clapp of Chicago, and a beautiful chancel window memorializing the Rev. Dr. Joel Clapp, one of the "first fruits of the parish of Montgomery."

1874: A window dedicated to the Hon Rufus Hamilton, sometime senior warden. The renovated church is consecrated a second time by Bishop Bissell. Several improvements are made to the church, including installation of a font, organ, new episcopal chair and a dossel for the chancel, with funds raised by the ladies of the church. The installment of stained glass windows proceeds during this decade, the height of the parish's prosperty.

1879: The Rev. Wadleigh's rectorship ends and is vacant for a year. The Rev Wm. Westover follows but his stay is brief, as are the tenures of most of his successors. Nevertheless the number of communicants stays at about 50 and the church remains fairly active. Around this time, the early women of the church are remembered thus: "They were of strong and investigating minds, of rare ability and extensive information, well versed in the doctrines of the Church...By their consistent life, and godly example, they left a reputation long to be remembered .."

1882: Union Church loses its rector and comes under the supervision of the rector of St. Anselm in Richford and later St Matthew's in Enosburg.

1890: There is a "decided decrease" in the number of communicants.

1897: The Church is renamed St Bartholomew's and continues to operate with a diminished congregation. The Church's organ is obtained through the efforts of C Fuller Rawson, who played it for years and maintained a fine choir.

1920: Old Home Sunday is inaugurated in lieu of regular services. Old Home Sundays continue into the late1960s.

1934: The church's custodian is Eliza E Parker.

1972: The Episcopal Diocese makes a determination that the building is unsafe for services and makes a recommendation for its demolition

1973: A series of letters between Andrew Crane and Bishop Butterfield, as well as other Diocesan and State Officials, results in the Diocese agreeing to hold off on demolishing the church until public interest can be determined and a suitable entity established to receive and care for the building.

1974: The Montgomery Historical Society, formed in 1973,  purchases the church from the Diocese of Vermont and the building is deconsecrated, ending its 139-year span as a house of worship.

1977:  Building is re-named Pratt Hall after Larry Pratt.

1974-1996: New roof, restoration of top two stage of the clock tower, clock, and stained glass windows.

2005:  The land adjacent to Prat Hall is purchased in hope a building can be constructed to store and exhibit artifacts collected by the Society.

2006:  The Society undertakes major repairs and restoration of the building including painting, replacement of clapboards on the back, and removal of rot on the tower.  Clock hands on front face of the clock warp and require repair.

2007:  The Society establishes a fund solely for the upkeep and preservation of Pratt Hall's windows.  Clock hands on the front face had actually rotted and broken off.  Pat Farmer fashions boson's chair and removes the old hands and replaces with cedar.  Old hands dated to the restoration of the clock and tower in 1985.  Society engages VT Historic Preservation and architect for further evaluation of the building.

2008:  After review of Architect's report the Society funds a techinical report by a timber framer.  Two high priority projects identified; front tower foundation and south/west wall.

2009:  The Society applies for and receives a $7,500 grant from VT Div for Historic Preservation for repairs/restoration of the base of the tower.

2011:  Work begins on major structural repairs to the front wall of the tower.  Additional funding obtained from the Eastman Charitable Trust, TD Bank, local businesses and membership. 

2012:  Tower Project and other work continues.  Tower exterior and clock face are repaired, including new hands on the remaining three faces, and replica gothic door hood molding.   Entire tower is painted.  Chimney is repaired as are electrical fixtures that illuminate the clock.  New handicapped ramp is installed and stained.  

2012:  Stained glass windows are evaluated by expert Lawrence Rebbecke.  He pronounces them in good shape and recommends we address some of the problems in the wood framing of the three chancel windows.  

2013  Society conducts a capital campaign to make structural restoration of timber frame truss and foundation of the West Wall.  Goal to raise $150,000.  Actual raised for the project was $165,000.  Major funding was from individualdonors but includes a $20,000 State Historic Preservation Grant and $25,000 grant  from the Eastman Charitable Trust.  

2014-15:  West Wall project is completed.  It involves removal of three stained glass windows for safe keeping, repairs to the attic truss, wall, and foundation.  Also light restoration of the stained glass windows, restoration of two clear lancet windows, patching the ceiling , plaster and painting.   Final painting was done the summer of 2016.  Final project cost totals approximately $135,000

2016:  Repairs are made to the exterior clock faces including patches to the faces, new moldings, and new roman numerals.  Repairs are also made to the moldings and trim around the bell louver openings.  Bell and Clock stages are painted as well as the standing seam roof.  Work costs approximately $15,000.