ALL SAINTS CHURCH (1897 - Present)

On Sunday, November 26, 1897 the Rev. Henry Quimby held the first service and organized a Sunday School for the Episcopalians of South Richmond Hill, or Morris Park as it was called then. A store on Jerome Avenue served that first small gathering, which included six children. The humble beginning is accented by the report of the sum of $22 raised by"entertainment", which formed the basis of a fund to purchase property for a permanent church. During Eastertide 1900 three lots on Lefferts "Avenue" were purchased. The cornerstone was laid on August 12, 1900 and on All Saints Day of that year the first service was held in the new church.

The Rev. John Graham became the first permanent and resident priest in 1901. When he arrived, Morris Park was an area of woods and farms and All Saints was a country church. The church served as both a worship center and place of social gathering. The latter, as might be expected, was sparked by the women of St. Helena's Guild. Many events were held in community halls and private homes. The Vicar's home was the center of activity particularly at Bazaar time.

The Rev. Henry Armstrong succeeded Mr. Graham and carried the work of the church into the post-war years of the 1920's. During his tenure the Rectory was acquired adjacent to the church. This period also saw the construction of the Parish Hall.

During the depression days of the 1930's we were served by the Rev. Lewis Beissig. The faith and work of hundreds of people throughout forty years brought fruit in 1938 when All Saints mission became a parish, and Mr. Beissig was elected the First Rector. Our faith was put to the test on December 13, 1939 when fire destroyed a large portion of the church building. Through sacrifice and hard work the church and parish hall were restored and improved.

A new era began for All Saints in 1948 when the restored church, now free of all debt, was consecrated by Bishop De Wolfe. In 1940, The Rev. Frederic Bush became the Second Rector, ministering faithfully for thirteen years. Because of failing health, Fr. Bush decided to retire in 1953. He was succeeded by the Rev. Edward Haslam, Third Rector. Fr. Haslam became a familiar figure in the community. He was active in the Interfaith movement projecting the parish into the life of our area. After ten years he moved to Brooklyn, and was succeeded by the Rev. Fred Sutton, Fourth Rector and an excellent teacher and liturgical scholar.

In 1965, the Rev. John J.T. Schnabel was elected Fifth Rector, beginning the longest tenure to date. In these twenty-one years the parish has continued to grow and prosper.  All obligations of the Diocesan and Parochial nature were met, which was rare in the urban scene of that time.

During Fr. Schnabel's tenure a number of changes and additions were made to the church buildings. Heating was converted from oil to more economic gas. The large west window was completely releaded and rebuilt with added crowns, the symbols of All Saints.  The sacristy, located off the sanctuary, was completely renovated with the addition of cabinets, sink, piscina and working area along with new closets, lighting and floor.  The sanctuary was redesigned and enlarged with the altar moved to the center with more ease of liturgical movement in mind. The altar rail was moved forward and enlarged to provide more than double the kneeling capacity. The choir and organ were moved to the west end of the church into space provided and the baptistry moved to the far eastern gospel side of the nave. Through a bequest all new pews were purchased and installed along with padded kneelers. A nave altar was installed to provide for more intimate weekday celebrations of the Eucharist. This altar was also used as the altar of repose on Maundy Thursday. The Children's Chapel was also renovated and refurbished for the use of the Sunday School.  The kitchen, located in the parish hall, was gutted to the walls and all new equipment and cabinets were installed. A new set of specially designed front doors were installed.  During the winter of 1990 it was realized that the church organ was failing. A committee was formed to examine various instruments and suggest a proper replacement and a new Rogers organ was purchased and installed during June of 1991.

As important as these improvements were to the corporate worship, more important was the growth in numbers and the diversity of the membership. Our parishioners came from five continents and represented many and various ethnic groups. We became a microcosm of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Sadly, Fr. Schnabel died on July 16, 1992, due to complications from emphysema.

On February 17, 1993, the vestry unanimously elected The Rev. Roy Edmund Waywell as Sixth Rector.  He assumed his duties on Sunday, March 28, 1993.  Under Fr. Waywell's leadership All Saints continued to flourish and grow.  He introduced many elements of traditional catholic worship, and during his tenure, All Saints was named as The Cell of the Holy House of Our Lady of Walsingham and St. Martin de Porres.  Fr. Waywell served as Rector for 16 years, until his untimely death on August 31, 2009.

The Rev. Lloyd Henry was eventually chosen as Interim Rector.  During this interim period, All Saints discerned a call to relocate from its home since 1897 in South Richmond Hill to the Woodhaven neighborhood into the site that had been St. Matthew's Church, which closed in 2011.  Following the decision to relocate, the parish resumed its search for a new rector.  The Rev. Dr. Norman Whitmire, Jr. was elected as the Seventh Rector, and he began his tenure on July 1, 2013.

Fr. Whitmire's first task as the new Rector was to relocate the parish to the newly renovated Woodhaven site.  All Saints began its ministry in Woodhaven on October 25, 2013 with a grand celebration to reconsecrate the historic 1928 Gothic-revival building and install Fr. Whitmire as Rector.  Since that time, All Saints has worked to make connections to the Woodhaven community.  One of the most significant endeavors is the monthly community project to restore, maintain, and renovate the historic Wyckoff-Snedicker Cemetery, in which members of some of the founding families of Queens and Brooklyn are buried (Eldert, Snedicker, van Wicklen, Lott, van Dine).  All Saints has also begun ministry in Spanish to serve the growing numbers of persons settling in Woodhaven from Latin America.

All Saints seeks to transform lives through fine worship in the catholic tradition, while embracing the diversity of its members and the Woodhaven community.  All Saints is a friendly, inclusive, and diverse parish where all are warmly welcome.

 

For historic pictures of All Saints, Richmond Hill, click here.

A Brief History of the Building
(founded as Saint Matthew's Episcopal Church, Woodhaven)

In 1900, St. Matthew's was organized as a mission of the Church of the Resurrection, Richmond Hill, to accommodate the growing population of the Brooklyn Manor section of Woodhaven.  A storefront was rented on Jamaica Avenue near 91 st Street and became the mission's first home. First service was held on January 7, 1900. The Reverend Robert Kimber was appointed priest-in-charge.

Building lots on 96th Street were purchased from the Brooklyn Manor Construction Company on October 8, 1900 for the erection of small wooden church edifice.  The cornerstone of the first building was laid on November 4,1900.  First service in the wooden church was held on the Feast of the Epiphany, January 6, 1901.  The first wedding in the wooden church took place on June 19, 1901. It was that of Miss Antoinette Wachs to Mr. G.B. Woodworth. The church was made a bower of daisies picked from the surrounding fields, well illustrating the affection the church fostered in this recently-settled community "in the daisy fields."

Parish hall was erected in 1907, aided by the generous contribution of Mr. Charles Napier and his sister, Miss Kate Napier, early benefactors of this parish.

The Rectory was built in 1915, according to plans which had won First Prize at the St. Louis Exposition of 1904 as "Best Layout of a Clergyman's House."

In January 1926 the Vestry voted unanimously to raise funds for a new church building. Plans for such were drawn by the firm of Schimer and Schmidt, Architects, of Manhattan.  Mr. Schimer, principal-in-charge, was a member of the Vestry.  The last service in the small wooden church was held on September 21, 1927.  Services were held in the parish house, which was converted into a chapel. The S L Day School met in Hillside Lodge F. & A. M. located next to the Rectory.  Breaking of ground for the new church took place on October 1, 1927, and the cornerstone was laid on November 26, 1927.  The first service in new stone church was held December 2, 1928, built by Fraser and Bereau. The church building was constructed in rural English Gothic style with a square bell tower housing a peal of five cast bells.  The interior and exterior walls are constructed of gneiss, quarried in Pennsylvania and highlighted by a terra-cotta trim. Interior wooden trusses support a variegated-colored slate roof.  Bishop Stires referred to the church as a "little cathedral."

The altar reredos and other wood carvings were supplied by the American Seating Company, under the direction of Alois Lang. ( Mr. Lang was at one time associated with the Oberamergau Passion Players. He is a cousin of Anton Lang, the "Christus" of the Passion Play for many years.)  The original stained glass was executed by John E. Tarbox. In 1957, the remaining large nave windows depicting scenes in the life of Christ were installed by the J. Whipell Company of London, replacing original non-figurative windows of white and yellow glass. In the 1960's the 24 new clerestory windows were installed by the George L. Payne Studios of Paterson, New Jersey, depicting saints and bishops of the early church, as well as more modem heroes and heroines. The last two figures memorialized near the 96th Street wall are of Albert Schweitzer and St. Pope John XXIII.

The Baptismal font was moved to the center aisle near the rear of the church, and a lady chapel was installed in the original baptistery space.

The All Souls Columbarium was installed in 1989 in the south ambulatory aisle as a depository for the cremains of parishioners.

In 1988 a new Reuter pipe organ was installed. This was made possible from a bequest of Miss Cora Seiler, one time Altar Guild Directress for many years, and is known as the Seiler Memorial Organ.

In 2011, St. Matthew's Church was closed and the building remained unoccupied for nearly two years until 2013 when All Saints Church relocated from South Richmond Hill, where it had served that community since 1897.  Several changes were made in preparation for the building's reconsecration as All Saints, Woodhaven.  The nave was renovated and restored.  The altar rail was removed from the chancel; the front pews were removed from the choir to increase space; and, new wood flooring was installed.  The original wooden ad orientem high altar was shaved and pushed back, leaving only the façade which was converted into a retable.  The high altar from Richmond Hill was placed at the east end of the chancel.  A new chapel was created in the southwest corner of the nave.  The nave reredos and chapel altar from the Richmond Hill church were attached to create a single altar piece.  Portions of the altar rail originally in the chancel of St. Matthew's were installed in the chapel.  On October 25, 2013, the church was reconsecrated as All Saints, Woodhaven and the chapel was consecrated as St. Matthew's Chapel.  An icon of St. Matthew hangs in the chapel, a gift from All Souls Memorial Episcopal Church in Washington, DC (the home parish of Fr. Norman Whitmire, Seventh Rector of All Saints).  The space that was the original baptistery, and had served as the Lady Chapel for St. Matthew's Church, was converted into a Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.  Adorning the walls underneath each sconce are the Stations of the Cross from All Saints, Richmond Hill.  The wooden columbarium was restored and several ashes were reinterred.  Along the opposite wall hangs the brass columbarium from All Saints, Richmond HIll.

The 1915 Rectory was also renovated.  The first floor was opened up to create a large living/dining area and a state-of-the-art kitchen.  A new wood floor was installed.

The parish hall is scheduled to begin renovations in the fall of 2016, which will include the construction of a new business office, a rector's office, and a commercial kitchen.  An elevator will be installed to make the parish hall fully accessible.

For historic photos of St. Matthew's, Woodhaven, click here.

(Original history written by Mr. Allan B. Smith.  Edited and amended by Fr. Norman Whitmire)

THE HISTORIC WYCKOFF-SNEDICKER CEMETERY

"Dutch settlers whose large families by nature increase spilled over from Flatlands and New Lots into virgin acres of southern Queens. Nearly all the farm folks had ties to the Dutch Reformed Church and Sundays they drove their carriages to worship in the old
Dutch Church at New Lots and Schenck Ave in East New York and to socialize afterward with their friends and neighbors. Some Woodhaven folk buried their dead in the churchyard, but about 1785 the Wyckoffs and the Snedickers each deeded a plot
about 80x266 feet on the border line along their respective farms and established a local burying ground. Between 1791 and 1900 over 200 local residents were buried here". (The Story Of Woodhaven and Ozone Park by Vincent F. Seyfried)

The families still retained their ties to the Dutch Church in New Lots, as described by Peter Rapelje in his recollections of the town of New Lots.

"The rural Community of New Lots around 1885 as described by Peter Rapelje, who grew up on the Rapelje farm on the east end of New Lots Road, in the Town of New Lots, Brooklyn. (Written in the year 1940). By this community I mean the group of families centered around the New Lots Dutch Reformed Church. Around that time Jerome Vanderveer, with his family, rode to this church from their home on the south west corner of Woodhaven Lane and Metropolitan Avenue with his wife and sons James, Walter and John. Peter Lott, also from that section, came every Sunday as did the Snedekers, Drews, and Elderts from Elderts Lane". [Peter Rapelje's Remembrances of Old New Lots, Brooklyn, with Collateral Entries from the 1892 and 1893 Diaries of Sara Louisa Crossman Duryea, Richard Alan McCool, Annotator February 1996 Columbus,Ohio].

The Wyckoff - Snedicker Cemetery has, like most of the family burial grounds in Queens, been ignored and vandalized for years. As early as 1934, just 2 years after Charles Powell, an engineer for the City'S topographical bureau surveyed the cemetery; the Leader Observer ran articles regarding its neglected condition.

In 1963, the City auctioned off the cemetery. The parishioners of the adjacent St. Matthews Church purchased it for $600, according to Allan Smith, the Church's warden and historian, to give respect to the dead. The Church landscaped the area and tried to make it into a garden-like park. In 1995 Stanley Cogan, president of the Queens Historical Society, formed a group to work for the preservation of the Queens Family Graveyards. It is at this time, that the compilers of this history became involved with Mr. Cogan's project. They had discovered their ancestors were buried in the vandalized Southside Cemetery in Ozone Park. In 1999 the City placed a plaque on this cemetery honoring the families buried there.

In 1997, Stanley Cogan gave a slide presentation of the 23 Queens family cemeteries, first to the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society and then at St. Matthews Church.Interest grew and a group was formed to refurbish the Wyckoff - Snedicker Cemetery.

A group of volunteers from the Church, from the Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society,and from the Queens Historical Society met every Saturday for 2 years. Using amap provided by Powell's survey, Allan Smith, an architect and Arthur O'Meally, an engineer and a trustee of the Queens Historical Society, worked with the volunteers to re-erect stones in their original location. A fence was erected through a grant provided to the Woodhaven Cutural and Historical Society from Senator Serphin Maltese.

On Sunday, October 31,1999, St. Matthews Church held a rededication service after which the congregation proceeded to the burial ground for an outdoor blessing.

On December 2, 1999 in a ceremony at Flushing Town Hall, Borough President Claire Shulman honored Smith and O'Meally for their preservation work on the Wyckoff-Snedicker Cemetery. ( excerpt from The Chronicle 1999 ). Following is Allan B. Smith's acceptance speech given when the award was presented:

"It is indeed a great honor to receive this Queens Preservation Award and it is also an honor and a privilege to have been part of a local community project that so intimately is associated with the history of Queens County.

Therefore we should remember Charity, Farnrnatie, Tunis, Tarlton, Gitty Maria, Elijah, Dowe, Domenicus, Gary and the others of the 136 early Dutch settlers who are interred here.

When we initiated this project over two years ago, no one realized the extent of the undertaking. I guess that makes us undertakers. Please bier with me.

As we are now beginning to see the fruits of our endeavors leading to the final stages of completion, I can only say the personal rewards have far outweighed the dirt, the mud, the strained back, insect bites and bramble cuts. The reason for my involvement was to
give some sense of dignity and respect to a hidden piece of property that was once abandoned, vandalized and desecrated.

The family of Henry Wyckoff who died in 1851 got it right when they decided on this inscription for his tombstone: " WE WHO SHARED HIS WARM AFFECTION AND REALIZED HIS WORTH, DELIGHT TO DWELL UPON HIS MEMORY AND WILL
HONOR HIS REMAINS"

It is likewise my delight to have worked with such a dedicated group of volunteers from the Queens Historical Society, The Woodhaven Cultural and Historical Society and St. Matthew's Episcopal Church in bringing honor to God's Little Yz Acre.•

Rather than a topographical surveyor a genealogical survey, the compilers have done a family history on those who are buried in the Wyckoff-Snedicker Cemetery. Basic datesand names of spouses and children tell only part of their story. To be able to discover
more about their era, their area and more about them as living people is important. We find they were people much like ourselves. They loved and honored their God, their families, their Country, their King and President. They lived their' daily lives as we live ours. The men worked hard at their jobs and the women worked equally as hard taking care of the horne and family. They served their Country when asked. Lawrence Losee died in 1863, a member of the 139th Reg. N.Y. Vol. Much like our own families, the first generations farmed, followed trades, went to sea and owned hotels and inns during the heyday of the Union Course Race Track. Their children turned to the law, medicine, realestate, banking and development. One developed a summer resort in Rockaway Beach and one married the daughter of John Pitkin, the developer of Woodhaven.

Although their lives had much sorrow with high infant mortality, death in childbirth and early death from disease, they lived with Faith and Joy.

List of Inscriptions in Wyckoff-Snedicker Cemetery

Maria S. Conklin Van Dine aged 30 years l l months, died in childbirth with son.

Dearest one you have gone
Far from this world of care
On earth your work is done
For Heaven's now your home.

Abbey Amelia Eldert aged 11 years 4 months 13days

Dearest Abbey thou hast left us
From this world of care & pain

Love's strong ties cold death may sever
But we trust to meet again.

Mary Brasier aged 22 years.

Here blooming youth & beauty be

A form once radiant with an angel's mind

All that could touch the heart or charm the eye
To dust & darkness now consigned.

Here aft is heard the mother's cry

Here still the tear of friendship flows

Till death shall give that heart repose.

Nicholas Lott aged 49 years 1 1 month 7 days

My flesh shall slumber in the ground
'Till the last trumpet's joyful sound;

Then burst the chains with sweet surprise,
And in my Saviour's image rise.

Garchy Suydam Nostrand aged 40 years 5 month 10 days

Sweet is the memory of the just
Their virtues never die

The Lord will raise their sleeping dust
To dwell with Christ on high.