|Syracuse, NY. First English Lutheran Church. Archimedes Russell and Melvin King, architects, 1911. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2007.|
|Syracuse, NY. First English Lutheran Church. Archimedes Russell and Melvin King, architects, 1911. Bell tower. Photo: Samuel D. Gruber 2016.|
Landmarks in the City: First English Lutheran Church (1911)
by Samuel D. Gruber
This summer, I'll be posting about some of the many landmarks in Syracuse and Onondaga County. These are buildings that have been recognized for their architectural, artistic or historic value and designated by the city as Local Protected Sites or placed on the State and National Register of Historic Places. One of these places is the lovely First English Lutheran Church at 501 James Street, just at the northeastern edge of Downtown. It was listed on the National Register in 1998.
Designed by leading Syracuse architect Archimedes Russell and his young partner, Melvin King, This and the near-contemporary (and very different) Saint Anthony of Padua Church on West Colvin Street were Russell's last ecclesiastical commissions. Russell had designed many important churches throughout the region, mostly as free interpretations of historicist styles - primarily variations on Romanesque and Gothic designs. King almost certainly contributed to this design and he would soon take over the firm from the aged and ailing Russell (he died in 1915 and king took over the firm).
Groundbreaking for the new building took place on April 18, 1910. The first service was held in the church on June 18, 1911. The beige sandstone church is striking from the outside for its incorporation of Mission style elements and Arts & Crafts detailing. Most notable is its unusual bell tower, flanked by lower towers, all topped with pyramidal red tile roofs.
Inside, the church is very spare. the Post-Standard (June 19, 1911) gushed at the time of its opening of its brilliantly lighted auditorium with large balcony. The wide spacious feel, accented by a series of colorful stained glass memorial windows made by the Haskins Art Glass Co. of Rochester, a firm owned and operated by George Haskins, who some speculate has previously worked for Tiffany. The company started in 1890 as W. M. Page & Co. In 1893 it became Parkes, Collyer & Stacy before becoming Haskins & Collyer in 1895. In 1904 it became Haskins Art Glass.
Add for Haskins window from Baptist Yearbook (1919)
Haskins worked predominately in opalescent glass. In the main sanctuary these include two large cathedral glass windows, the immediate left and right after entering. These are arranged in geometric and architectural designs into which are inserted art glass busts of handsome heads, which may have come from the congregation previous church and been reused. Four other big windows are multi-section biblical scenes and landscapes made of opalescent glass.
One more big window is in the facade beneath the main tower. inside seen in the choir balcony, and this represent the Annunciation to the Shepherds (in memory of Christian and Katherine Cook). The colors of this window are very vivid.