MARION – When Rear Admiral Andrew Harwood found himself in a severe storm at sea, he begged the Archangel Gabriel to spare him, swearing to found a church in the name of the angel if he lived.
He did – and when he got back ashore he bought a church for $ 700.
St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church celebrates its 150th anniversary this year with an eponymous book, written by parish historian and Sippican Historical Society board member Judith Rosbe and published in March.
Although larger celebrations are currently on hold due to the covid, Rosbe said, the church hopes to host an event this summer to mark the occasion.
This is the sixth book on Marion’s local history that Rosbe has written.
Others focus on topics such as the city’s historic homes, its relationship to the sea – from hurricanes to the salt industry to boat building – and books on notable organizations like the Beverly Yacht Club. and the Marion Art Center, said Rosbe.
“I majored in history,” she noted, adding that she has been on the historical society’s board since 1978. “I’m really involved.”
She also wrote about Marion in the “Golden Age” at the turn of the century, when the city was a summer hot spot for many famous artists and actors, and even for President Grover Cleveland.
“Between [presidential terms] – those four years when he was not president – he came to Marion’s house and spent the summer here, because he liked to fish, âshe explained.
From the 1880s to the early 1900s, Marion was also a summer haven for names like Henry James, Mark Twain, illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, and actor Ethel Barrymore.
Barrymore was actually the bridesmaid at artist Cecil Clark’s 1899 wedding to one of the country’s most famous journalists, Richard Harding Davis, in St. Gabriel.
A chapter in Rosbe’s book covers their wedding day, during which photographers and reporters lined up outside the chapel to catch a glimpse of the famous couple.
The original St. Gabriel’s Chapel was built in 1847 as a private school for the daughters of whaling captains, later becoming a public school before Admiral Harwood bought it at auction in 1871 to establish St. Gabriel’s.
One of the most notable features of the building is its stained glass windows, 11 of which were made by eminent glass artist Charles J. Connick.
âI discovered that they were made by the most famous stained glass artist of the 20th century,â Rosbe said. “So I did a chapter on it.”
Although the church has already published a book on its history for its centenary, Rosbe said it contains additional information – the previous book did not mention the stained glass windows – and many more pictures.
The photos are from the church archives, which were donated to the Historical Society for preservation.
“I hadn’t written anything for a while, and when the church approached me I decided I would,” Rosbe said of her latest book, which she did primarily as a title. gracious.
âThe only thing is, I got five free copies of the book,â she said with a laugh.
Entitled simply “St. Gabriel’s Episcopal Church,” the book is one of a series called “Images of America” ââby Arcadia Publishing, and is available for sale from St. Gabriel’s or the Sippican Historical Society.
All proceeds from sales are donated to the church.