Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Consecration of the Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel at Christ Church in Pelham Manor on April 28, 1887

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The oldest church building in the Town of Pelham is the picturesque structure built of hand-hewn granite that serves The Parish of Christ The Redeemer. Known as Christ Church, the gothic-inspired building with lancet windows and lovely doorways coined in red brick looks like a country parish that might be found in the ancient English countryside.

In July 1884, one of the most beloved members of the Parish died: Nanette Bolton. She was a daughter of the founder of the church and had worked actively for the parish for forty years. She also founded and served as head mistress of the famed Priory School for Girls located in the Bolton Priory, her family’s home next to Christ Church.

Former pupils of the Priory School and members of the parish decided to express their love with a memorial building to expand the facilities of the little parish. Thus, in 1885 and 1886, the parish raised funds and built the Nanette Bolton Memorial Building immediately adjacent to Christ Church. See Haight, J. McVickar, Historical Sketch of Christ Church Pelham 1843-1919, p. 14 (Privately Printed Pamphlet 1919; hereinafter “Haight”) (unnumbered pages).

On April 28, 1887, Episcopal Bishop Henry Potter consecrated the Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel. I previously have written about the consecration of the Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel Building.  See:  Wed., September 21, 2005:  The Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel Building at Christ Church in Pelham Manor.

The completion of the Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel was a significant enough event to warrant one of the earliest extant photographs taken in Pelham.  It shows more than sixty people standing in front of the new building in two groups on each side of a memorial stone embedded beneath the windows. The stone is inscribed “Nanette Bolton Memorial”.  The photograph appears immediately below.

 HTML clipboardIn the photograph, members of the congregation are gathered around the little chapel, standing aside so the photograph will show the carved stone memorial tablet embedded in the building.  A photograph of that carved stone memorial tablet appears immediately below.

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Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes another article about the consecration that appeared in the May 3, 1887 issue of The Chronicle, published in Mount Vernon, NY.


The Nanette Bolton Memorial Chapel at Pelham, erected in memory of Miss Bolton, for many years Principal of Pelham Priory and well known as an earnest Christian worker and educator, was consecrated last Thursday by Bishop Potter.  The memorial was built largely from funds contributed by members of Christ Church, to which it will be an adjunct, being used for the Sunday School and for Lenten services.  The chapel is a gem of architecture, built in the early English style entirely of stone.  It is 48 1/2 feet long by 32 feet broad.  Its total cost was $4,125, the land being furnished by Mrs. A. L. Stevens, present owner of the Priory, and the plans being the gift of the architect, F. C. Merry, of Pelham Manor.  There is a memorial window in the north side, the gift of Mr. Thomas Denton.  An inscription upon the south side of the chapel, 'Lo, I am with you always,' was given by the children of the Sunday School.

The consecration service was the Episcopal ritual for the occasion of opening a new place of worship and was conducted by Bishop Potter, assisted by the Rev. W. S. Coffey, of St. Paul's, Eastchester, a friend of Miss Bolton; the Rev. Chas. F. Canedy, of Trinity Episcopal, New Rochelle, the Rev. Mr. Winsor, of Grace Church, City Island, the Rev. Dr. Mallory, and the Rev. Chas. Higbee, Rector of Christ Church.  Before the service of consecration Bishop Potter confirmed 20 persons in the church.

Bishop Potter in his address referred to what he regarded as one of the most promising signs of the age, the apparently wide-spread tendency to memorialize the dead, not as of old with laudatory and possibly affected sculptures, but with beautiful buildings, or portions of them.  He spoke also of Nanette Bolton as one who had done much in her education of women to advance the sex to its rightful position.  He also referred to Miss Catharine L. Wolfe as one of the few who remembered their stewardship over riches, and as one whose character had been largely formed by Nanette Bolton, whose pupil she had been.  Many well known people from New York, attended the services."

Source:  Memorial Chapel Consecration, The Chronicle [Mount Vernon, NY], Vol. XVIII, No. 981, May 3, 1887, p. 1, col. 4.

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