The Mission of St. Paul’s-on-the-Hill
Our purpose is to be a visible, welcoming and engaging community for individuals and families who seek a spiritual home.
For more than 175 years St. Paul’s has served the Ossining community. In it’s current pastoral setting with historic buildings, it offers a place for celebration, contemplation and examination of our lives as Episcopalian Christians.
The History of St. Paul’s
During the first half of the nineteenth century, two events took place which have a distinct bearing on St. Paul’s story.
First, on the first plateau above the Hudson in the little village of Sing Sing (later Ossining, in Westchester County), a group of Episcopalians met in 1833 and build the first church of that denomination in the area. It was fashioned of local marble and named St. Paul’s.
In 1868, a breach in St, Paul’s congregation related to divided sympathies in the Civil War led to the founding of an offshoot of St. Paul’s, named Trinity. The new church was built on the more traveled Albany Post Road, which runs through Ossining where it is know as Highland Avenue.
The Second World War came and went, bringing to the town of Ossining (renamed in 1901 to distinguish it from the prison which had been build at the river’s edge) a rapid growth of population that fanned out into the open spaces back in the hills, from which main parkways led to New York City and the county seat in White Plains, amid the scenic beauty of the old estates which circled the little town.
One such estate was Torbank in the hills above the Hudson River. A family by the name of Donald had erected a mansion from the bricks and timbers of the old Customs House in New York City. Generations of Donald’s had farmed their estate, when lightning struck and burned their barns, with the exception of a tiny tool shed which had been built of brick and slate. When the Donald’s rebuilt, they built three farm buildings of brick and slate around a central courtyard to match the little tool shed and garden walls.
In the 1950’s, when developer David Bogdanoff created the housing development on what is now Ganung Drive on Torbank hill, he saw that the beautiful Georgian-type buildings of the old McDonald estate could be the heart of his development, and lend a touch of historic meaning to the new houses that he was build on the surrounding hillside.
It was family building of the Donald estate that became the new location of St. Paul’s, which was renamed “St. Paul’s-on-the-Hill.”