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St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church Complex (St. Augustine’s) is a historic Gothic Revival Style Episcopal church located in Croton-on-Hudson in New York. The buildings consist of a rectory—which is in a colonial architectural style differing from that of the rest of the complex, a parish hall, and the church itself. The complex is fully integrated with the newer parish hall connected to the church and rectory by a hyphen. The church complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 26, 2006.

St. Augustine’s Church was formally organized in 1855 after thirteen previous years of regular Episcopal services taking place in Croton-on-Hudson[1]. The Church itself was erected in 1857 on land that was donated to St. Augustine’s by Philip Van Wyck. The church was modeled after the Chapel of Christ Episcopal Church in Tarrytown, New York. Augustus Clarkson was the first rector of the Church and served for 52 years until 1906. Two years prior to his resignation due to ill health, the church remained closed and the congregation dispersed as Clarkson remained in his home in New York City making the trip up to the Church once for Christmas in 1905. After Clarkson’s death in 1907, the Church was reopened with a congregation size of 103 families. 

            St. Augustine’s would go through financial issues stemming from the death of Augustus Clarkson which had been dependent on Clarkson's financial support. Due to this wealth the need for a collection plate was not necessary which created a haven for worshipers from all socioeconomic backgrounds to follow their faith without having to provide a monetary donation to the church. In 1911, St. Augustine’s had to apply to the Diocese for financial assistance after a sharp drop in attendance.. With the aid of the Diocese, St Augustine’s regained independent parish status but had to rely on subsidies for another 24 years. 

            The financial woes of the Church increased with the Great Depression. The Diocese was unable to come to the aid of St. Augustine’s, and inn 1939, the vestry of the church had to seriously weigh the proposition of closing down the church. St. Augustine’s did not close but would continue to fluctuate between periods of financial turmoil and prosperity. Today the church is operating strongly due to “young and vigorous” new parishioners that have reversed St. Augustine’s historical financial challenges.

            St. Augustine’s history is also rich in conflicting views of theology—specifically whether the church should operate as a low or a high church. The terminology for high and low church are innately neutral as one does not covey superiority over the other. The separation between low and high church comes from how the religion is practiced. A low church is often one that does not follow set liturgical patterns which in turn minimizes the emphasis on ceremonial worship and the priesthood. In contrast, a high church is on that puts emphasis on the traditional Catholic elements of the church. This debate started during the beginning of the church’s financial decline. The roots of St. Augustine’s were low church in practice due to Clarkson however, after his death many priests—most notably Father Stewart—favored a high church approach toward Anglo-Catholicism. In his tenure, St. Augustine’s went through renovations to adapt to a high church practice. The topic of religious orientation would waver throughout the churches history but were resolved Father Armfield who, though himself was a high churchman, would hold services for those who were uncomfortable with high church practices.   

            St. Augustine’s evolved around the growth of Croton-on-Hudson, New York. As the train line developed from freight into a commuter rail line and with the construction of the dam, more people made the village of Croton their home. The church has continued to evolve to match the progress of the times which has helped St. Augustine’s stay an important part of the community.

"National Register of Historic Places (Recreation)”, NYS Historic Preservation Office, State of New York, updated December 18, 2019, accessed June 29, 2020.

“Parish History”, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, WordPress, accessed June 29, 2020.

Howard Dale, “A Walk Through Croton-on-Hudson—St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church”, Ahead World,  published October 5, 2017, accessed June 29, 2020.

Croton-on-Hudson Historical Society, Images of America: Croton-on-Hudson (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2001).

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