Blue Mountain Lake, NY
In 1881 the Rev. Montgomery H. Throop, priest-in-charge of the Mission Church of the Good Shepherd on Raquette Lake, met with a group of summer residents from Blue Mountain Lake. They discussed the possibility of establishing an Episcopalian mission in the village.
The church on St. Hubert’s Isle was the only place of worship within 25 miles, and the growing summer population created a need for another summer chapel.
Bishop Frederick Doane of Albany agreed and the Mission of the Transfiguration was founded, with visiting clergy presiding. Early services were held in the village school and a private home, but primarily in the parlor of John Holland’s Blue Mountain Lake House.
Holland and his brother-in-law, Dr. Martine (who built the original Blue Mountain Lake House), soon donated land next to Steamboat Landing for a permanent church structure. On 19 July 1885 the present building was dedicated by Bishop Doane.
Transfiguration was photographed that same year by Edward Bierstadt of New York City at the request of William West Durant. This was for a tastefully done advertising brochure, The Adirondacks, Artotype Views Among the Mountains and Lakes of the North Woods.
The plans for the building were drawn up by Manley N. Cutter, a New York City architect. The builder was Thomas Wallace, who also helped in the construction of Echo Camp on Raquette Lake three years earlier. In 1886 the Meneely bell was donated by
Mrs. Levi P. Morton, wife of the future Vice-President (under Benjamin Harrison 1889-1893).
The harp near the lectern is almost 180 years old. The Rev. George Ottoway ran a boys’ camp on Ottoway Island. The harp was played by his daughter who brought it by guide boat each Sunday. The instrument was donated to the church in 1957.
The stained glass windows above the altar and near the organ were donated by the church warden Henry Crane of Crane’s Point, Blue Mountain Lake. In the 1860s Dr. Thomas Durant was instrumental in bringing Crane up from NYC to be treasurer of the new Adirondack Railway. Durant soon convinced both Crane and others to build camps on Blue Mountain Lake.
During the winter months Mr. Crane was also the warden of the Episcopal church in Mandarin, Florida, the Church of Our Saviour.
During a 1960s visit, Transfiguration warden William Wessels noticed a similarity between the stained glass windows in Mandarin and Blue Mountain Lake as well as how the Florida church resembled the island church on Raquette Lake. This led to his article, “The Twin Churches.”
Founding members in Florida included the Henry Cranes, the C.P. Huntingtons and the Meads from Philadelphia (perhaps the same Mead family who donated Bluff Island on Raquette Lake to the Diocese of Albany). The Florida altar, which survived Hurricane Dora in 1964, is dedicated to Mrs. Crane.
The Rev. Ralph M. Carmichael served the Church of the Transfiguration for 39 summers, beginning in 1957. He was appointed Priest-in-Charge in 1959.
From 1995 through 2007 the church was in the capable hands of the late Rev. Lyman Farnham and his wife Sue. The Farnhams, longtime friends of the Carmichaels, have had a summer home in the Adirondacks for many years.
In 1977 the Church of the Transfiguration was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Rev. Dr. Chip Lee, priest-in-charge
Services are held each Sunday at 10 am from June through September.
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