Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Visiting American churches

When I used to vacation in Europe (and even now that I live here), I always found myself visiting some chapel, church, or cathedral. Even though they start to resemble each other after a while, it's still fun to go inside to see what they look like.

The façade of St. Peter's. The tall bell tower is not part of the church; that's Albany City Hall.

So why not do the same thing when I'm traveling around in North America? Granted, the churches aren't as old, but they're still interesting. Of course, more and more churches get locked up to prevent vandalism, so you can't always go inside. On this trip we did get inside to see three churches. Three's a good number.

The nave looking toward the choir. The flags include those of the thirteen original Amercian colonies

This first one is Saint Peter's Episcopal church on State Street in downtown Albany. The current building dates from 1859. I've passed by this building all my life without ever taking notice of it. Until recently. While walking after lunch a couple of weeks ago we noticed that the doors were open, so we went in to have a look. It's even more amazing on the inside than it is on the outside.

Detail inside the choir.

The architectural style is French decorated Gothic. While we were inside, the organist was practicing, so we got to hear snippets of whatever it was he was playing on the impressive pipe organ. Very churchy. I was amazed by the brightly painted timber-framed vaulted ceiling.

The rose window and organ pipes.

Ken, Evelyn, Lewis, and I walked around inside for about fifteen minutes taking photos. As I'm sure I'll remind you often in the coming weeks, I was using my new camera and still learning how it works, especially in different lighting situations. All these shots are hand-held (no tripod) in low light, so they're a bit fuzzy, but they still give you the idea.


  1. What a beautiful place. Maybe I'll have to go back inside St. Pat's in NY the next time I'm there. I love when you apologize for your photos. Your worst are better than my best!

  2. I love church pics, thanks.

  3. I love the way the altar is glowing in the second photo. I'm so glad that we were able to visit this church. Albany is a great place to visit.

  4. Amazing ceiling! It looks worth a visit (though it's a bit far from here!)

  5. They are beauties (your photos), and that church is amazing!!

    My dad had an expression that he used all the time to mean that you had a lot of something: "up State street", as in, "They had troubles up State Street.", or "That hardware store had nails up State Street." :)) (There was a State Street in their town in Massachusetts, too.)

  6. The ONLY thing I like about churches is the architecture. Isn't it interesting that the most ornate are catholic?

  7. Judith

    I believe that there is a State Stree in every town or city in the NE of the US. Seems to me that wherever I go , it is either State or Main street :-)

    In the Atlantic provinces it is water or main street.

  8. Walt,

    Beautiful! We also have a "St. Peter's" church here a few blocks away from where I am typing this comment. However, this is an Episcopal Church located in the center of Lewes, Delaware. As you know (or might not) Lewes is the firs town in the first state in America. Lewes was originally settled by the Dutch in 1631. I don't know how old the church is but I suspect it is about that old too. A couple of months ago while I was taking photos in their beautiful cemetery I noticed that the door was open so I went inside for a peek. Absoultely beautiful. I will post those pictures in a future blog. Thanks for giving me the idea.

  9. I love a beautiful church; they are so much more spiritual than the post Vatican II buildings I know. I used to joke you can find the local Catholic church by finding the ugliest building in town.

  10. mitch, I don't think I've ever been in St. Pat's. One of these days. And your photos are beautiful. Just remember: you never see my worst.

    bettyann, you're welcome!

    evelyn, I'm glad you liked it! I love playing tour guide.

    morningaj, it sure is, on both counts. ;)

    judy, that's a very interesting expression. I wonder where it comes from?

    starman, they like to worship idols. ;)

    t.b., there's also a State Street (that great street) in Chicago.

    ron, this church is Episcopalian, too. And Albany was found by the Dutch in 1609, then settled in 1614, so I think it pre-dates Lewes. I'll have to look that up to be sure. :)

    michael, most of the churches (and cathedrals) in France are of the Catholic variety and they're quite beautiful. Still, I know what you mean. :)


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