LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - OCTOBER 16, 2022 by Lynne Belluscio As I sat in St. Mark’s Church on Sunday during the service for Nancy Baker, I couldn’t help but be reminded of some research that was done back in 2005. St. Mark’s Church was the first church in LeRoy to have a pipe organ. Unlike several Protestant churches, music has always been a traditional part of the Episcopal Church, inherted from the Anglican Church of England. St. Mark’s first pipe organ was not in the present-day church, but the original building which stood on Church Street north of the cemetery. It was consecrated in 1827. In July 1831, the Rev. Joshua Rogers told the vestry that, “I have engaged an organ much superior to the one in Geneseo.” The church acquired the pipe organ from N. Bingham of Rochester for $350. It has been recorded that Mrs. Charlotte LeRoy, who had studied music in France, was the first organist for the church. The rector at this time was F.H. Cummings, who according to church history, stressed the musical side of the service. The vestry approved the remodeling of the gallery “for the accommodation of the singers” and $250 to pay the balance on the new organ. After Cummings left, apparently it was decided that the organ wasn’t satisfactory and the church acquired another from William Staunton of Palmyra, who was the Rector of the Zion Church. Staunton who had been born in England, had previously trained as an organ builder. The building on Church Street showed signs of deterioration in the late 1860s and the congregation decided to build a new church on the corner of Main Street and Church Street. The limestone for the church was taken from a factory building adjacent to the site of the new church. The new St. Mark’s was completed in 1870 and five years later a new organ was purchased. It was installed in the altar niche in July 1876. A boys’ choir was begun in October 1881. There is an amusing story about two of the organists at St. Mark’s Church. “A young lady by the name of Blodgett had for some time acted as the organist of St. Mark’s. During the festivities of Christmas at that church, she presided at the organ at the presentation of an oratorio. Suddenly, Miss Blodgett became confused and by consequence the instrumentation was so defective as to embarrass the vocalists. In one of the arias the organ came to a premature pause. A recitative began, the a c c omp a n i me n t w a s wanting. Next a grand chorus burst forth, but without aid from the organist, who bowed her head on the keys which she drenched in her tears. At this juncture young Elmore stepped forward. Miss Blodgett gave him her place and instantly under his magic touch the organ voiced forth its majestic harmonies, and thence on, the rich splendors of the instrument gloriously s u p p l e m e n t e d t h e magnificent rendition of the well-drilled singers. It is hardly necessary to add that young Elmore thereafter held the position of organist . . .” Perhaps it is only fitting that just this last week, it was announced that the bells at St. Marks had been fixed. Once again, they ring on the hour and the wonderful music can be heard. Last year, about this time, work on the beautiful rose window was being completed by Gary Fink and Don Chielowiec. And restoration work continues on the historic stained-glass windows on each side of the sanctuary. I remember Nancy gathering the information about those windows to make sure the history wasn’t lost. St. Mark’s Church may have been Nancy’s church, but LeRoy was Nancy’s home town. It was this community and its people that she loved. The Baker’s didn’t move to LeRoy until 1963, and it was here in LeRoy that she and Bruce raised their children. And no matter which house they lived in, it was home. She was committed to the Woodward Library and the Central School. It was fitting that she was LeRoyan of the Year. At the service it was mentioned that for Nancy, it was “Love, Listen, and LeRoy.” There is no better way to remember this wonderful lady than to embrace these three words. Love, Listen and LeRoy