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Tour of Gardner Earl Memorial Chapel
by Bill McGrath

Here is some of what I remember about the tour. (November 8, 2003)

Terri Page was the tour conductor and she was excellent. Spent about two hours and fifteen minutes with us in the chapel and going around to some selected graves in the cemetery.

Prior to entering the chapel Terri gave us an overview of Troy's manufacturing history and how it relied on the river and the streams for power. Troy was one of the richest cities in the country. Of course our group with it's genealogy bent knew all the right answers as to the products made in Troy from bells, to stoves, to collars and cuffs, to horse shoes, etc.

As we entered the chapel, Terri put out the lights so we could experience the Tiffany windows with the sun streaming through. I have seen Tiffany windows before in St. Joseph's Church, the Troy Library, etc., but these were the most beautiful ones I have ever seen. Terri explained the various types of glass in the windows and the various techniques used to get special effects.

The hand carved wood ceilings and trim and pews were from oak and are the originals. The marble in various colors came from all over the world. A large block of onyx was purchased in London and that is what the various columns were cut from.

William S. Earl, married Hannah M. Gardner, the boss's daughter and with their collar and cuff's business became very wealthy. Gardner Earl, was their only child and apparently he was sickly from birth. On the grand tour of Europe he became interested in cremation and he had a document prepared requesting cremation when he died. His parents complied with his wishes when he died at about age 37 and he was cremated in Buffalo, NY.

Since Gardner was an only child, William and Hannah wanted to build a crematorium in his memory and money was no object. At some point Terri felt that the family was embarrassed at the cost of the chapel and all documents relating to its construction were destroyed. They are no original records left detailing costs, artists, etc. The stone work was done by Adam Ross Cut Stone which is still in business in Albany today. They have on loan from the Adam Ross firm a hand caved scale model of the chapel as it was originally built.

High on the front of the building is a large carved stone gargoyle which fell to the ground on its first two attempts at raising with ropes. The third attempt was successful and the gargoyle was affixed in place. Apparently the two falls did not damage the stone carving.

After touring the chapel we drove to several locations in the cemetery. Saw one monument which was a colossal Celtic cross. Also the chapel of the Warren family which was one of the famous stove manufacturers in Troy. About 80 family members are buried under the floor of the chapel. We had a wonderful view of Troy and the mountains in the distance from the escarpment where Terri gave us a history lesson on American Revolution and Civil War events as they played out in our panoramic view of the city and it's environs. Professional photographers have taken pictures of this view and a large display will be set on this prospect and it will identify the various buildings that can be seen.

The sad part of our tour was the fact that Oakwood Cemetery is so under funded. Major work is needed on the chapel to repair extensive water damage due to the failure of the roof is some parts.

Pictures of the tour....

More pictures of the tour...

 

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