St. Andrews by the Sea is a hidden gem tucked away among a mix of new and old stately homes in a neighborhood in Rye, New Hampshire.
St. Andrews by the Sea – Roger Wood photo
Built back in 1876, it predates many of the more modern structures, and is home to an Episcopal Congregation. Actually, church Senior Wardens who oversee it, say that the seasonal summertime place of worship is not membership oriented, but attracts some 175 people to the two services held every Sunday. Like the minister, most of those who serve at St. Andrews are unpaid volunteers, with the exception of the sextant, who keeps the sanctuary spotless and just as new appearing as when it was originally built. Originally, the two services were held, first for the wealthy summer visitors, and second, for their servants, naturally a tradition long abandoned in the modern age.
Altar and stained glass windows – Roger Wood photo
The stone church has stood the test of time, even strong winds and hurricanes. It is a constant draw for potential weddings, and derives much of its strong endowment from some events.
Historically, the land for the new church came about as a gift from the Philbrick family, under the proviso that the family could be buried there. John Colby Philbrick named his “Farragut” Hotel after Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, the civil war hero of Mobile Bay. The hoteliers even built a boardwalk over to the church to keep the worshipers dry.
One unique feature of the church is the Lich-gate, a covered gateway to the church used to protect coffins awaiting a priest before a funeral. There are said to be only three such structures in the state.
Right now, the church door is locked during the week, but opened for those who wish to tour it. I had an opportunity to sit down with two past Senior Wardens, Max Smith and Carol O’Leary, to talk about the building, its history and its present goals.
Past Senior Wardens Carol O’Leary and Max Smith – Roger Wood photo
You can listen to the interview by clicking on the podcast arrow above or download link below.