St. Stephen’s: The Early Years (part 1)

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1. Margaret Taylor Johnston Bard, ca. 1855. Margaret Taylor Johnston Bard was a woman of means from a family of devout Scottish immigrants. Her passion for education led her, with her husband, to use her fortune to found and support two ducational institutions: St. Stephen’s College in Annandale, and Trinity School in nearby Tivoli. She was an integral part of early decisions regarding the College, as reflected in the fact that she was named a charter trustee of St. Stephen’s. After her death in 1875, the St. Stephen’s community memorialized her with “St. Margaret’s Well,” which still stands beside the chapel. Photograph by D. S. Peirce.

2. John Bard, ca. 1890. The eleventh of fourteen children, John Bard was the product of an influential colonial and post-colonial family of physicians and educators. His father, William Bard, was a pioneer in life insurance in this country, something he deemed essential for the protection of widows and children. John was a deeply religious man, determined to use his position in life for the betterment of the less fortunate. With his marriage to wealthy and like-minded Margaret Taylor Johnston, they purchased the estate they renamed Annandale and committed themselves to educational projects in the immediate and surrounding communities. St. Stephen’s was to become the crowning achievement of the Bards’ philanthropies; it was chartered by the State of New York in 1860. Photograph by W. Hoffert.

3. William Bard, known as “Willie,” ca. 1864. Though he was the fourth child of Margaret and John Bard, he was the first and only son. Following his death in 1868, the family moved to Europe, never to return full-time to Annandale. Photograph by Black & Case.

4. Rev. John McVickar, ca. 1860. An uncle of John Bard, McVickar was a brilliant teacher at Columbia, and later the superintendent of the Society for the Promotion of Religion and Learning. In this capacity, he was concerned with the need for a new college to prepare young men for the ministry, a goal eventually realized through the resources and energy of the Bards and other devout philanthropists.
5. Bard Hall, ca. 1950. John and Margaret Bard donated Bard Hall to St. Stephen’s as part of the original grant of land, buildings, and funds. Built in 1854, it originally served as a chapel on Sundays, and as a neighborhood parish school during the week. Over time, it has served many functions: as a library, often as a classroom, and, for many years, as the College’s primary music hall, with excellent acoustics and a seating capacity of about 100.

6. The Chapel of the Holy Innocents, late 1800s. Robed St. Stephen’s students can be seen gathered outside the chapel. The Bards built two chapels at Annandale. The first burned to the ground in 1858; the building was not insured. The present Chapel of the Holy Innocents was consecrated on February 2, 1860. It was the Chapel, and the religious services held within, that formed the nucleus around which all other education developed at St. Stephen’s.

7. The interior of the Chapel of the Holy Innocents, late 1800s. Due to water damage in the 1980s, a new floor was installed, and most of the pews were replaced with chairs, affording greater flexibility for the many uses the Chapel serves today.

8. Campus scene, late 1800s. St. Stephen’s students gather in front of a building known variously as “The Janitor’s Cottage” or “The Old Stone Jug. ” Later a post office, it initially served as the first dormitory on campus, housing twelve students within its twentyfive square foot walls. Students reportedly had to step outside to put on their shirts.

9. Aspinwall Hall, late 1800s. Aspinwall Hall, first named Occident, was constructed as a dormitory in 1861 thanks in large measure to the generosity of John Aspinwall of Barrytown. Aspinwall was later a trustee of the College.

10. Stone Row, late 1800s. The first two sections, Potter and McVickar, were completed in 1885, with money given by Carolyn Bard, a sister of John Bard. Despite financial difficulties faced by the College, North and South Hoffman were completed in 1891, thanks to the sustaining contributions provided by trustee Rev. Charles F. Hoffman.
11. George Bailey Hopson, late 1800s. Hopson served the College between 1863 and 1916 as professor of Latin. He also served three terms as acting warden, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, always maintaining the steady atmosphere set by Warden Fairbairn, with whom he had worked for almost forty years. His expectations as a teacher were high. When students complained of not having enough time to complete their lessons he replied: “There was all the time there was. ”

12. Samuel Upjohn, 1863. Upjohn went on to serve a congregation in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

13. Irving McElroy, 1870. McElroy was a member of the Eulexian Society at St. Stephen’s. The Eulexian Society was a literary organization established in 1865, the first of three fraternities on campus that were active at the College well into the twentieth century.

14. Charles Simon Coles, 1861. Coles was one of several pre-seminary students to have been tutored by George Seymour, beginning in 1856. Rev. Seymour was missionary at Annandale, and first warden of the College. St. Stephen’s began to hold commencements in 1861, making Mr. Coles the second student to receive his degree from the College.

15. Eugene L. Toy, 1868. Eugene L. Toy held the honor of being first in his class, receiving the coveted “primus” status. Such classes were still rather small, however; this class held two graduates.

16. Pierre McDonald Bleecker, 1876. Bleecker went on to serve a congregation in the town of Jewett in nearby Greene County.

17. William Booth Guion, 1878.
Guion became minister of a church in Hiawatha, Kansas.

18. Ludlow-Willink Hall, late 1800s. The cornerstone for Ludlow-Willink was laid on June 13, 1866. The building was the gift of sisters Elizabeth Ludlow and Cornelia Ann Willink, and originally built to house the president, then called warden, and his family.
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