History

historic photos of St. Mary's ChurchFounded by Rev. William Creighton in 1839, St. Mary’s congregation originally met in a small one-room school house on the corner of Sleepy Hollow Road and Albany Post Road. At the time, the congregation was known as St. Mary’s Beechwood.

Reverend Creighton was a prominent churchman; he served as rector of St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery before moving to Westchester. He founded Christ Church, Tarrytown, served Zion Church in Dobbs Ferry, and was twice elected Provisional Bishop of New York. He refused the office both times. His wife was Jane Schermerhorn, member of one of the first Dutch families to colonize America. Creighton’s daughter was married to the Rev. Edward Mead, who served as assistant at St. Mary’s Beechwood.

East Windows of St Mary'sRev. Mead and Rev. Creighton’s daughter took their honeymoon to Scarborough in Yorkshire, England, On their return, Rev. Mead convinced his father-in-law to build a church modeled after the thirteenth-century Scarborough Parish Church. The name of the town of Scarborough, NY derives its name from this fact. Mead designed it, and Creighton donated the property and funds. Local stone masons used native granite to complete the building in 1851.

The church features the only complete set of stained glass windows by renowned artist John Jay Bolton. Along with his brother William, The Bolton brothers were considered to be the only serious stained glass artists in the United States at the time. Images depicted by the window designs include the unusual “Pelican-in-her-Piety,” a symbol of the atonement. The west window is a noteworthy example of the grisaille technique.

Ivy that covered the walls of the church descended from cuttings planted by Washington Irving, a life-long friend of Dr. Creighton. The cuttings had been given to Irving by Sir Walter Scott during a visit by Irving to “Abbotsford,” Scott’s Gothic Revival English residence. Ivy climbing the parish hall walls was brought back and planted by Mrs. Frank Vanderlip from a post-World War II trip to the Argonne. (Charles Baldwin, “St. Mary’s Church of Scarborough,” Westchester County Historical Bulletin, Vol.28, p.73.) More history is available at Scarborough's entry on livingplaces.com.