St. Saviour’s Episcopal Church has long been an unofficial landmark of Old Maspeth Village. Margaret Minnis looks back over her 78 years and recalls her childhood when she attended St. Saviour’s School.
“The school was held in the Parish Hall, she remembers. And it went up to the third grade. After that you had to go to P.S. 86 or 72.”
Mrs. Minnis, whose parents were married at St. Saviour’s in 1895, enjoyed being a child in Old Maspeth. The church was the social gathering place throughout the year.
“Every summer there was a big picnic on the grounds and all the children got a bag of beautifully shaped cookies, plus plenty of ice cream, cake and old fashioned lemonade.”
There were many games and people used the tennis court (see photo) all the time.
At Christmas time there was a big celebration and the children were given gifts; a doll or book, and a box of candy with an orange. Christmas was wonderful!
Easter was a lovely time too. We had to go next door to the Maurice Mansion at No. 1 Hill Street (Now 57-21 57th Rd) where each child would receive a handmade purple satin bag containing two fresh eggs. You had to be extra careful with that.”
The Maurice family, together with the Van Cotts, built St. Saviour’s Church in 1847, and it was consecrated in 1848. James Maurice, for whom Maurice Avenue was named was a very successful lawyer and politician who gave the land for the Church and parsonage from his own estates. The Maurice Mansion still in use as a multi-family dwelling, was built on land originally purchased from Judge Garrit Furman of Old Maspeth.
The house used to stand on spacious grounds with a lovely pond called Maurice pond.
Friends of Dewitt Clinton, the Maurices’ built St. Saviour’s on the crest of the hill so that it would overlook the old Clinton House.
The Van Cotts old-time residents of Maspeth, had a huge farm across Maspeth Avenue containing many acres. In their barn the kids used to put on shows. They would charge the grown-ups 2 cents.
Mrs. Minnis, herself married at St. Saviour’s, has been a dedicated church member all her life, as was her husband, Louis and their daughter, Margaret. Due to the encroachment of industry into the old residential area, the number of church members has decreased sharply. “We need more young members to bring the Church back it its former prosperity,” said Mrs. Minnis. “There are facilities on these grounds to have picnics and outings again if people take part.”
The beautiful two-acre block of wooded land that contains St. Saviour’s is the last intact piece of Old Maspeth Village left since industry has been permitted to move in. Many other familiar areas of today’s Maspeth were once a part of the Maurice Family Estates, such as Maurice Woods and Maurice Park; as well as Mt. Olivet Cemetery where, in regal splendor and reserve, the last of the Maurice family are laid to rest on the side of the hill overlooking the town
Margaret Minnis was born in Maspeth, 1897.