Historical Society

The Church of the Transfiguration Historical Society
photo by Fr. John David van Dooren

The Historical Society of the Little Church Parish was established by vote of the Vestry in February of 2005, during the transition period between the Sixth and Seventh Rectors. It first met on 10 March 2005.

Preserving the History of the Little Church

The urgent need for protecting and organizing the many precious commemorative items and records of the parish accumulated during its more than 150 years of existence became evident when it was discovered that many items of historical significance had long been stored in the basement of the rectory and were being dangerously compromised by its humid environment, as well as by the lack of suitable shelving for the considerable volume of material.

Having been neglected for far too long, these archives were finally provided a new permanent home by vote of the Vestry, a temperature and humidity-controlled state- of-the-art Archives Room on the fourth floor of the new “Sky House” building, then under construction next door to the church.

Many of the records were first removed and generously safeguarded by parish member Eugene Neely, a Professor at Adelphi University, who also had images of this material digitized and copied onto CDs, with all of the work being done pro-bono, with the help of his students. In the Summer of 2009, when the Archives Room was completed, suitable shelving, binders and archival sleeves were purchased and donated by our generous Historical Society members, and installed from floor to ceiling, on all four walls. A desk, a computer and office seats were also donated. Furthermore, a fundraising project was initiated, recycling wooden rough-sawn pine planks dating to the mid-1860’s, salvaged from the reconstruction of Guild Hall. This material was sawn into ¾ inch sticks and fashioned into 12-inch wooden crosses by a disabled US Veteran carpenter in New Hampshire, under the aegis of Committee Member Mart Hulswit, who brought the material up and back via Amtrak. Many of these crosses were sold, raising over $1200 in just a few years. They are still available.

Another accomplishment has been the digitizing of thousands of our marriage records from the start of the Parish in 1848 to the year 1937, filmed pro-bono by archivist experts from the famous Family History Center of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, well known for their digital and photographic preservation of vital Church and Civil records all over the world. The originals were carried from the Church Office to the Archives room and back during many days and hours of time given by our Historical Society Chairperson, Pat Williams. These Transfiguration marriage records are now available on CDs in the archives room, having been provided to the Parish at no cost.

The archives, as they were examined by the committee, made possible a number of exhibits displayed for the enjoyment of our Parishioners, including:

  1. A stark presentation celebrating our Church’s heroic protection of black citizens who were being beaten and even hanged during the New York Draft Riots near the end of the Civil War.

  2. Another exhibit celebrated the establishment, at this very church, of the Niobrara Conference, an organization formed to give protection to Native American tribes out West, who were being harassed, and even massacred, by vigilante groups and even U.S Military Troops.

  3. A display of the Transfiguration’s magnificent Kensico Cemetery grave sites in Westchester County, where the first two Rectors are buried, and where many of our parishioners were laid to rest.

  4. Photographs of the on-site work of twelve Parishioners who traveled to New Orleans as volunteers in the aftermath of the catastrophic storm “Katrina.”

The Historical Society Committee meets approximately twice a month, year around, and some members, from time to time, work in the archives room individually, to continue categorizing, curating, and preparing for upcoming projects.

Here is a list of all members who have served since our founding, some now deceased, some now retired:

Patricia Williams, Chair: Horace Felix, the late Jeff Hale (Ret.), Mart Hulswit, the late Ann Guild (Ret.), Valerie Komor, Joyce Larsen, (Ret.), Claire Malouf (Ret.), the late Eugene Neely, (Ret.) The Rev. Warren Platt, Ted Rowlands, and Vestry Member Joan Seymour.