HISTORY, BUILDINGS & ARCHITECTURE
Christ Church was founded and built in 1843 and is the first house of worship in Pelham. Our founder was the Rev. Robert Bolton, who served as our first Rector. Today, the Rev. Matthew Hoxsie Mead serves as our fifteenth Rector. In between, the original church was expanded, new buildings were built, the Garden of Resurrection was established, and the church merged with its daughter congregation in North Pelham to become the Parish of Christ the Redeemer.
We have a rich history begun by the Boltons and built upon by succeeding generations.
Please read more and learn about our history and architectural treasures, and familiarize yourself with our wonderful buildings which have been the spiritual home for countless Episcopalians since 1843.
If you have more time… read our 100 year history, published in 1943.
BEGINNING WITH THE BOLTONS
Our parish’s worship of our Lord Jesus Christ takes place today in a church building that was built in 1843 of native granite. Christ Church was the culmination of the dedicated efforts of its first rector, the Rev. Robert Bolton.
Robert Bolton was born in England, emigrated to the United States, and eventually settled in Pelham. He served as Rector of historic Saint Paul’s Church in Eastchester. Saint Paul’s is now located in Mount Vernon – the building did not move, rather the city and town lines and boundaries changed over time. Bolton saw a need for an Episcopal Church in Pelham. On April 28, 1843, the cornerstone of Christ Church was laid – you can read Robert Bolton’s address on this occasion to the fledgling congregation. On September 15, 1843, Christ Church was consecrated by the Bishop of New York, and on September 25, 1843 the church was officially incorporated as an Episcopal Congregation in New York.
Bolton had five sons (each became Episcopal priests) and eight daughters. Two of the Bolton sons, William Jay and John, were artists who contributed directly to the architecture and artistry of the church. William Jay was one of the premier stained glass artisans of his time and created many of the stained and painted glass windows in the church, including The Adoration of the Magi, which is believed to be the first figured stained glass window made in America. William Jay and John also constructed the side altar, reredos, and altar rail. The brothers carved and painted the corbels, which sit at the base of the rafters.
Two of the Bolton daughters established missions that became Grace Church, City Island, and the Church of the Redeemer in North Pelham. The Rev. Cornelius Bolton, fourth son of the Rev. Robert Bolton, served as the third Rector of Christ Church from 1855-1857 and later as Rector of the Church of the Redeemer.
By the early 1970′s, it had become clear that the town of Pelham could no longer support two Episcopal parishes. After prayerful consideration by both congregations and both vestries, a decision was made to become the united Parish of Christ the Redeemer. Christ Church was selected as the house of worship and the property of the Church of the Redeemer was turned over to the Town of Pelham to be used for a municipal hall, a center for senior citizens and a child care facility.
The Bolton family moved away from Pelham long ago, but their legacy remains. Their stately manor home, known to this day as the Bolton Priory, sits a few hundred yards from Christ Church on Priory Lane and one street away from Bolton Street.
RECTORS OF THE PARISH OF CHRIST THE REDEEMER
Robert Bolton, 1843-1852
Alexander Shiras, 1852-1855
Cornelius Winter Bolton, 1855-1857
N.E. Cornwall, 1857-1861
Marmaduke Martin Dillon, 1861-1864
Edward W. Syle, 1864-1868
J. McAlpin Harding, 1868-1871
Charles Higbee, 1871-1893
Alfred Francis Tenney, 1893-1918
J. McVickar Haight, 1918-1936
Edward T. Taggard, 1936-1945
Lawrence B. Larsen, 1946-1966
David Stewart Hoag, 1966-1998
J. Randolph Alexander, 2000-2013
Matthew Hoxsie Mead, 2015-Present
BUILDING UPON A BLESSING
John Bolton’s six immediate successors served an average of about three years each and aside from Cornelius Winter Bolton, who later served as Rector of the Church of the Redeemer, very little is known of them. The Bolton family continued to take an active role in the Parish – Anna Bolton played organ at Christ Church for many years, and the 1870 building adjacent to the Church was named after Nanette Bolton.
The Rev. Charles Higbee served as rector for over 20 years and began a trend of long rectorships and stability that has lasted into the 21st Century. Under his leadership the UNDER CONSTRUCTION (1-9-19)
We have had fifteen Rectors. Please click here for information on our rectors.