Julia Howard Bush Memorial Center

(Formerly First Presbyterian Church)
First and Congress Street
Troy, New York

On December 31, 1791, at Ashley’s Inn, the inhabitants of the Town of Troy incorporated themselves into a Presbyterian congregation which was the beginning of the First Presbyterian Church of Troy. Jacob D. Van der Heyden, having given the congregation in Troy three lots on the south side of Congress Street, fronting on First Street, the erection of a plain wooden meeting house, forty by sixty feet, was begun in the summer of 1792.

In 1834, the members of the church, desiring a better and larger house of worship than the meeting house made an agreement with the city authorities to exchange the two lots and part of the third for two lots south of them. On July 18 that year, the trustees conveyed the three lots to the city, with a reservation respecting Lot 86 “so that a small part” of the church to be erected should stand on it “with a view that the residue” of the lots should “forever * * * be kept open and unoccupied by any building and * * * be enclosed as a public park and yard, in front of the said meeting house.”

The erection of the new church was begun in the spring of 1835 and on Thursday afternoon, April 23 rd, the cornerstone was laid. The Doric hexastyle architecture of the church made it a very attractive building. The expense of erecting it was about $45,000.

In 1883, three richly colored and figured memorial windows were placed in the front wall of the building. The central one was the gift of a number of the friends of the Rev. N. S. S. Beman, D.D., to whose memory it is inscribed. The one on the west side of it is a memorial to the Rev. Jonas Coe, D.D., the gift of his son-in-law, James Brown of New York City. The east window was given by the congregation in memory of Jacob D. Van der Heyden. The circular window above the west door is in memory of Charles P. Hartt, the gift of his widow. The one above the east door, in memory of Gordon B. Saxton and Philena F. Saxton, was given by their son S. B. Saxton.

On one of the three marble tablets in the wall of the audience room is lettered: Inscribed to the memory of Rev. Jonas Coe, D.D., ordained first pastor of this church, June 25 th, 1793. Died July 21 st, 1822 in the 64 th year of his age, having discharged the duties of an affectionate shepherd 29 years. On another: Inscribed to the memory of Jacob D. Van der Heyden, Esq., founder and father of this congregation, and the first ruling elder in this church. Born in Albany, October 28, 1758. Died in Troy, September 4, 1809. On the third: In memory of Nathan Sidney Smith Beman, for forty year’s pastor of this church, from June 18, 1823 to June 18, 1863. Born at New Lebanon, N.Y., November 26, 1785. Died at Carbondale, Ill., August 8, 1871, aged 86 years

The church building is an accurate example of a hexastyle Greek Doric temple and is a nationally significant building. Constructed by architect James Harrison Dakin, it is believed to be one of ten surviving examples of his work. The grand hall has three Tiffany stained glass windows and is enhanced by a dome capped by a skylight cupola.

The First Presbyterian Church building was purchased by Russell Sage College in 1974 for campus and community gatherings and events. The building, renamed The Julia Howard Bush Memorial Center in honor of a longtime college trustee, who was also a member of the First Presbyterian Church, had extensive exterior renovation work done in 2004.

The following Memorial Names that were found in The Julia Howard Bush Memorial Center were transcribed by TIGS volunteer Rebecca Rector.

Name Memorial Location Inscription Church Status
Beman, N. S. S., D.D., L.L.D. Stained Glass Window Balcony In memory of Rev. N.S.S. Beman, D.D. L.L.D.  Pastor for 40 years.   (Note: this is Nathan Beman, 1785-1871) First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Beman, Nathan Stained Glass Window Balcony In memory of Rev. N.S.S. Beman, D.D. L.L.D.  Pastor for 40 years.   (Note: this is Nathan Beman, 1785-1872) First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Beman, Nathan Sidney Smith Marble Plaque Was originally in Audience Room – Most likely moved to current Church Bldg. In memory of Nathan Sidney Smith Beman, for forty year’s pastor of this church, from June 18, 1823 to June 18, 1863.  Born at New Lebanon, N.Y.   November 26, 1785.  Died at Carbondale, Illinois, August 8, 1871, aged 86 years. First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Brown, James Stained Glass Window Balcony Rev. Jonas Coe, D.D., First Pastor 1793-1822.  (Note: Window was gift of Son-In-Law, James Brown of New York City) First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Bush, Julia Howard Stained Glass Window Left side Tribute to Julia Howard Bush, 1872-1962, given by this church First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Bush, Julia Howard Plaque On Organ Revoicing and expansion of the organ was the gift of Julia Howard Bush who died in 1962 before work was completed. Dedicated March 22,1964 to the glory of God as she requested First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Coe, Jonas, Rev. D.D. Stained Glass Window Balcony Rev. Jonas Coe, D.D. First Pastor 1793-1822.  (Note: Window  was gift of Son-In-Law, James Brown of New York City) First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Coe, Jonas, Rev. D.D. Marble Plaque Was originally in Audience Room – Most likely moved to current Church Bldg. Inscribed to the memory of Rev. Jonas Coe D.D., ordained first pastor of this church, June 25, 1793.   Died July 21, 1822 in the 64th year of his age having discharged the duties of an affectionate shepherd 29 years First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Curtis, Mary Morrison Stained Glass Window Left side In loving memory of Mary Morrison Curtis First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Dakin, James Harrison Architect of Building First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Gale, E. Thompson Stained Glass Window Right side In memoriam –                E. Thompson Gale, 1887 First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Halley, Eben, Rev., D.D. Stained Glass Window Left side To the glory of God and in loving memory of Rev. Eben Halley, D.D., Pastor 1886-1895 First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Hartt, George P. Stained Glass Window Balcony In memory of George P. Hartt, born April 2 1818, died June 23, 1872 First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Howe, James Henry Stained Glass Window Left side In memory of James Henry Howe and wife Honor Maria Kasson. MDCCXI First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Kasson, Honor Maria Stained Glass Window Left side In memory of James Henry Howe and wife Honor Maria Kasson. MDCCXI First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Sawin, TheophilusParsons, D.D. Stained Glass Window Right side In loving memory of Theophilus Parsons Sawin D.D., Pastor 1886-1905 First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Saxton, Gordon B. Stained Glass Window Balcony In memory of Gordon B. Saxton born June 5 1800 died April 30 1868, and wife PhilenaF. Saxton born April 26 1800 died August 6 1851  (Note: Window was given by son S. Saxon) First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Saxton, Philena F. Stained Glass Window Balcony In memory of Gordon B. Saxton born June 5 1800 died April 30 1868, and wife PhilenaF. Saxton born April 26 1800 died August 6 1851 (Note: Window was given by son S. B. Saxton) First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Saxton, S. B. Stained Glass Window Balcony In memory of Gordon B. Saxton born June 5 1800 died April 30 1868, and wife PhilenaF. Saxton born April 26 1800 died August 6 1851. (Note: Window was given by son S.Saxton) First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Thurman, Sarah Communion/Altar Table Foyer Gift of Sarah Thurman 1923 (small brass plaque on wall says it was given to Sage College by the congregation of First United Presbyterian Church for the Goldberg Auditorium, 2002) First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
VanDerheyden, Jacob. D. Stained Glass Window Balcony In memory of Jacob D. Vanderheyden, founder of the church 1791 and first ruling elder First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
VanDerheyden, Jacob. D. Marble Plaque Was originally in Audience Room – Most likely moved to current Church Bldg. Inscribed to the memory of Jacob D. Van der Heyden, Esq., founder and father of this congregation, and the first ruling elder in this church.  Born in Albany, October, 1758.  Died in Troy, September 4, 1809. First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Webber Stained Glass Window Left side Webber – Reset 1912 First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Webber, George Nelson, D.D. Stained Glass Window Right side In loving memory of George Nelson Webber D.D.  Pastor 1874-1883   Gentle, unselfish and retiring in daily life, in the pulpit he was an oracle whose lips were touched with fire First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus
Young, Phebe Gould Stained Glass Window Right side In memory of PhebeGould Young by members of the church 1906-1952 First Presbyterian Church Building is now the Julia Howard Bush Memorial Bldg. at Sage Campus

If anyone is interested in helping on a similar project,
contact Bill McGrath at:  seamus@nycap.rr.com

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