A COMMUNITY OF RADICAL HOSPITALITY
The history of the church has been intermixed with that of the community, and many of the founders’ names are the same as those today’s visitors see on street signs and local landmarks: Hitchcock, Knibloe, Sherman, etc.
Knibloe family members served as senior wardens of the church for all but two years from 1849 to 1939. Trinity Church, Wall Street, also has had a lasting relationship with the church, supporting it with an initial construction grant of $500 in about 1850 and a later gift of a processional cross. In 2007, the Trinity Church foundation made funds available to St. Thomas to construct a community garden as an outreach project to provide food for the hungry.
St. Thomas was built between 1850 and 1852 from a design by the noted Victorian
architect Richard Upjohn (architect of the world-renowned Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City), and today is considered one the finest examples of the “country gothic” style popular during this era. Typically for the small farm community of its time, much of the construction was carried out by the parishioners themselves, with bricks produced on a local farm and foundation stones, sand, and the chestnut rafters hauled by their own teams and wagons.
The church houses several items of historic as well as
religious interest. Two beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows grace the sides of the church, the gift of Lola Sherman in honor of her sister, Leila. Above the altar, a stained glass representation of the Good Shepherd, imported from England in the late nineteenth century, sheds lovely colored light on the sanctuary. And each Sunday's service includes music played on St. Thomas's historic Odell organ, purchased from the Jardine company in the 1860's and completely restored by Scot Huntington of Rhode Island in the 1990s.
St. Thomas Episcopal Church was founded in 1849 during a period of particular growth and fervor in the surrounding area occasioned by the efforts of the Reverend Homer Wheaton, a prominent minister of the church living in Lithgow, New York. After a year of services in the local schoolhouse led by Mr. Wheaton, members of the community of Amenia Union (sometimes also known as Hitchcock Corners) voted in February to form a parish and within six months raised $2,000 for the construction of the church.