The Adirondack Mission History

Christ Church, Pottersville, was the oldest congregation connected to the Adirondack Mission. Its original building was completed in 1848.  The story goes that there were two devout Episcopalian families, one in Schroon Lake and one in Chestertown.  Rather than build two churches, they compromised and built one church in Pottersville. 

Church of the Good Shepherd, Chestertown

Church of the Good Shepherd, Chestertown

The happy compromise did not last.  Good Shepherd, Chestertown, came on the scene in 1876 and St. Andrew’s, Schroon Lake, followed in 1880. Good Shepherd began as a converted home.  St. Andrew’s overlooked beautiful Schroon Lake in a prominent location near the famed Leland House resort hotel.  The original St. Andrew’s Church building burned in the Leland House fire.  The present building, which is really the roofed cellar of the proposed church, became the new church in 1938.

St. Paul’s Church, Bartonville, was completed in 1890.  Though there has been just one church building, watching over the same Mill Pond, the name of the village which began as Bartonville has changed, first to Horicon, and finally to Brant Lake.  St. Paul’s also suffered a fire.  The original church was restored, but charred beams can still be seen if one goes crawling around the cellar.

The first St. Andrew's Church, Schroon Lake

The first St. Andrew’s Church, Schroon Lake

These four congregations, as well as defunct satellites in nearby locations such as Grassvilleand Adirondack, have had close relationships over the years.  In various configurations, they have shared clergy and shared in their support.  At one time or another, clergy have lived in each of the hamlets and there have been rectories in Pottersville, Chestertown, and Schroon Lake.  The term “Adirondack missions” has been used to describe these congregations long before the present parish structure was created.

St. Andrew's Church before fire in Schroon Lake

St. Andrew’s Church before fire in Schroon Lake

Along with the “old timers”, three other congregations are part of the world of the present Adirondack Mission.  They all came into being in the late 1940s and 1950s.  

St. Christopher’s Church, North Creek, started out meeting in the local fire house.  In 1948 one and one half prefabricated garages arrived on a rail car.  The building was assembled on Ridge Street, where it still stands, making St. Christophers’s one of the smallest church buildings in the Diocese of Albany.

St. Barbara’s Church, Tahawus, became St. Barbara’s, Newcomb, when the church building was put on the bed of a truck and moved ten miles.  In fact, the whole of Tahawus was moved to Newcomb when National Lead wanted to dig for titanium under their mining town of Tahawus. 

St. Hubert’s of the Lakes, Lake Pleasant, the newest congregation to be associated with the Adirondack Mission, is the only year-round congregation of the Episcopal Church in all of Hamilton County. It began in the late 1950s as a summer chapel, worshiping in renovated space that originally served as servants’ quarters for a nearby hotel.

The name of each of these newer congregations was chosen to reflect the special character of the area in which it was established.  St. Christopher was a giant of a man who ferried people across a dangerous river—North Creek is situated on the mighty Hudson River.  St. Barbara is the patron saint of miners—Tahawus was a mining town.  St. Hubert is the patron saint of hunters—Hamilton County is a haven for hunters.

As the September 22nd cover of The Living Church magazine noted, 1963 was a year for churches "on the move," as St. Barbara's, Tahawus, NY (above), and Holy Trinity, Melbourne, FL (bottom), were loaded onto trucks and moved to new locations. Cover reproduction, courtesy of The Living Church.

As the September 22nd cover of The Living Church magazine noted, 1963 was a year for churches “on the move,” as St. Barbara’s, Tahawus, NY (above), and Holy Trinity, Melbourne, FL (bottom), were loaded onto trucks and moved to new locations. Cover reproduction, courtesy of The Living Church.

The Adirondack missions became a “family of congregations” sharing clergy, programs, resources, and a common budget on September 1st, 1959.  The fourth Bishop of Albany, the Right Reverend Frederick L. Barry, decided that, if the Church’s work in the southern Adirondacks was to continue, the congregations needed to work together, “to bear one another’s burdens” and to share the clergy working in the region. What started out as a loosely associated group of Adirondack missions became the Church’s mission to the Adirondacks—the Adirondack Mission.

Barry House, with Chapel of Christ the Light on the right.

Barry House, with Chapel of Christ the Light on the right.

For more than forty years, a team of clergy serving the Adirondack Mission lived together at a large house  which  was  given  to the diocese by the Untermeyers, a New York family who continue to own a substantial tract of property on the shore of Brant Lake.  During that period, the house, which was named for Bishop Barry, served as a clergy house, a retreat and conference center, and a center for parish life. Over the years, Barry House was enlarged to include a dedicated chapel and expanded living quarters for the resident clergy and lay staff.

Changing staffing patterns and new diocesan priorities led to the closing of Barry House in 2003.  At the same time, the associated churches of the Adirondack Mission were exploring new patterns of relationship.  In 2004, the congregations of Brant Lake, Chestertown, Schroon Lake, Newcomb, and North Creek took a major step and voted to incorporate as a single parish, The Adirondack Mission.  In place of the old Mission Council, with representatives elected by each of the participating congregations, there is one vestry. The Adirondack Mission is a parish with five churches.  The church in Lake Pleasant remains associated with the Adirondack Mission.  It is served by Adirondack Mission clergy but has no direct role in parish governance. Christ Church, Pottersvillle, severed its relationship with the Mission in 2010.