Soon after Tuxedo Park was created in 1886, the need to establish a church was recognized and, in 1887, a small wooden chapel, designed by James Brown Lord, was built outside of the Park in the Hamlet, where the Gulf Station now stands. Later that year, Henry I. Barbey, Pierre Lorillard’s brother-in-law, offered to build and furnish a more substantial church. He acquired a plot of land just inside the gates of Tuxedo Park, where St. Mary’s could be accessible to residents of both the Park and the Hamlet. In keeping with the architecture of the Tuxedo Club and many of the original homes by Bruce Price, the church was designed in the Shingle Style. Native stone was used for the undercroft, and the building was skillfully perched astride a large segment of rock. At the top of its steep stone stairs, the front entrance of the church looked out onto an expanse of lawn, now referred to as the Great Lawn. The church was consecrated on October 14, 1888.
The Gilded Age
In concert with the Gilded Age history often associated with Tuxedo Park, St. Mary’s has witnessed many notable events. In 1896, fourteen-year-old Franklin Delano Roosevelt served as godfather to his cousin, Sara Roosevelt Collier, at her baptism here. And in 1969, the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, attended the baptism of her godson at St. Mary’s. Many “fashionable weddings” occurred here, including Angier Biddle Duke and Priscilla St. George’s in 1937. Our churchyard is the final resting place for such notables as the author Emily Post and US Congresswoman Katharine St. George. And the list of our early benefactors and pew holders reads like a “who’s who” of the Social Register - Breese, Coster, Cutting, de Rahm, Frelinghuysen, Kane, Lorillard, Morgan, Mortimer, Pell and Tilford. But St. Mary’s is much more than just that. For more than a century, under the leadership of 12 rectors, our church has been a steady presence of hope and caring for the entire community, appreciating our rich history, but also actively seeking to further our calling for “Mission, Ministry and Service.”
Sited on approximately seven acres, St. Mary’s campus consists of the church (designed by William Appleton Potter and consecrated in 1888), a parish house (designed by James Brown Lord in 1901), an education building (built in 1962 and update in 2011), a rectory (designed by Richard Howland Hunt in 1895) and the churchyard (opened in 1910 and expanded in 1927). The parish house and education building are connected to the main church. The chapel, office and vestry room are located in the undercroft of the church. The parish house includes two halls (Bentley Hall and the Somarippa room), a choir room, a Sunday School room, main kitchen and serving kitchen.
When visitors first enter St. Mary’s, they often find their gazes transfixed on our breathtaking stained glass windows. Rich in both composition and ornamentation, this stained glass artistry brings light and beauty into our sanctuary, adding another dimension to our spiritual experience. Our collection reflects the height of the stained and leaded glass craft in America and a prominent conservation & restoration firm has said it is of “museum quality.” Of the fifteen stained glass windows in the nave, seven are by Tiffany Studios, others are by Lamb Studios, John La Farge, Henry Wynd Young and Maitland Armstrong.
Preserving our History
St. Mary's-in-Tuxedo has established a fund specifically for the preservation of our historic buildings. Our historic church with its beautiful stained glass windows, and various paintings, plaques and monuments, is an important part of our heritage. Regardless of whether you are a member of the Church, a resident of the community or a visitor who believes in preserving the best things given to us by our ancestors, we hope you will visit St. Mary's and enjoy the beauty therein. Please also consider a donation to our historic preservation fund -- help ensure this touchstone of our community will continue to serve as a place of worship, a landmark of our architectural and cultural history, and as a place for anyone to reflect on the beauty of craftsmanship and artistry. Please contact us for more information or donate using the link below.