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Heritage 2016, www.plaintalk.net Vermillion Plain Talk 5B Episcopal Church St. Paul’s Serves Community For More Than 100 Years BY DAVID LIAS david.lias@plaintalk.net During the summer of 1909, the the Rev. James Henderson, a Massachusetts native who had only recently completed his theological course, was appointed to serve the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Vermillion, according to Herbert S. Schell in his book “Clay County: Chapters Out of the Past.” Schell notes that Henderson was probably better known for a secondary role as athletic director at the University of South Dakota than for the five-year term of service at St. Paul’s. An outstanding athlete during his college days, especially in football, he was appointed to the university position during the summer of 1911. The record made by university teams under his direction remains unparalleled to the present day. Particularly outstanding was the 1912 football season, which included a 10-7 victory over the University of Minnesota and a single loss to Michigan by the score of 7 to 6. In his role as vicar, the Rev. Henderson was called upon by his bishop to conduct services in various parishes standing vacant at the time. Among them were pulpits in Armour, Huron, Hurley, Mitchell, Parker and Springfield. In one instance, however, he conducted services by special invitation. Following the defeat of the Agricultural College at Brookings in 1911, the winning coach stayed over for the following day in order to conduct regular morning and evening services at the local Episcopal chapel. He resigned during the summer of 1914. Following a wedding ceremony in New England, he and his bride left for Spokane, Wash., where he became headmaster of an Episcopal boys’ school. With the assignment of the Rev. Rainsford Boag to Vermillion a little later, St. Paul’s reached a new stage in its growth, closely related to the university’s progress. A growing BY DAVID LIAS/FOR THE PLAIN TALK The present chapel of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was built in 1951, and has remained much the same until the summer of 1996 when a Guild Hall was added on to the north side of the building. student body, accompanied by a larger teaching staff, was inevitably reflected in an increasing number of Episcopal communicants. Added prestige for the local chapel followed the appointment of Dr. Robert L. Slagle, a devout Episcopalian, to the university presidency in 1914. President Slagle was soon designated a lay reader, taking charge of regular services whenever the Rev. Boag was called upon to supply some other town. Other appointments as lay readers followed in subsequent years so that St. Paul’s was seldom to be without regular services in the future. A close identification with the university community was viewed by the church hierarchy as a major function of the Episcopal organization in Vermillion. The Canterbury Club, which remained active for many years, was specially devised for this purpose. At times, as in 1951, the club’s membership included 125 university students. On some occasions, such as during periods of special missionary activities, separate afternoon meetings were scheduled throughout the week for the university students. The housing of young men of Episcopal persuasion was a cause of particular concern. One of the objectives sought from the ill-fated High Street project was to provide rooming accommodations for college students. Several actually resided there for a few months. Years later these would recall the college pranks they indulged in during their brief dormitory life. After 1900, Episcopal students frequently found quarters available to them at the rectory. This was especially true during the tenure of James Henderson. Plans for a separate building for dormitory purposes, finally, saw fruition in 1917. During the early part of the year the widow of Bishop George Biller, who had recently passed away, headed a special drive raising S4,000 for a two-story building called Biller Hall. The structure, attached to the rear of the chapel, was large enough to accommodate 30 students. The occupants were to provide their own bedding and pay a small assessment to cover lighting and heating costs. According to the Dakota Republican, Biller Hall housed 20 young men in the fall of 1919. No information is available for the preceding two years. The building, however, was not used beyond 1920 for dormitory purposes. The Rev. Graeme Davis was the vicar at the time, maintaining a residence for his family in the town. After a lapse of about a year following the resignation of the Rev. Davis, Bishop Hugh L. Burleson assigned his brother, then residing at Rochester, N.Y., to the Vermillion mission. The Rev. John K. Burleson, the new vicar, had formerly served a parish at Grand Forks, N.D. for a period of 16 years. Two years later, in 1923, he vacated his charge at St. Paul’s to become rector of the Springfield parish as well as the headmaster of St. Mary’s School for Indian girls which was to be re-established in Springfield by the Episcopalians in the fall of that year. By the 1920s it was becoming quite evident that the eventual absorption of the church acreage adjoining the university campus on Dakota Street was only a matter of time. Several lots were, accordingly, purchased at the southeast corner of Main and Linden in 1927, followed by the construction of a rectory two years later. The chapel on Dakota Street, however, remained in use until 1951 when a new church edifice was dedicated on Linden Avenue. The old church grounds, in the meanwhile, had been acquired by purchase by the state to become a part of the university campus. Finally, in 1959. the old chapel which had been moved from High Street in 1894 was torn down to make room for an additional wing to Julian Hall. UCC-Congregational Nearly 150 Years Of Dedication To The Community The first Congregational Church of Vermillion was organized in September 1870, with seven members. After meeting in a variety of places over the next three years, including the old log schoolhouse, the church finally moved into its own building in May 1873. This image is from an old edition of the Vermillion Plain Talk. BY DAVID LIAS david.lias@plaintalk.net The first Congregational Church in Vermillion was organized in September 1870, with seven members. After meeting in a variety of places over the next three years, including the old log schoolhouse, the back room of the Lee & Prentis building, and a rented building on Broadway, the church finally moved into its own building in May 1873. Located below the bluff, the church and most of its contents were destroyed in the flood of April 1881. After the flood, the Congregationalists rebuilt their church on top of the bluff. The building, located on the second block of High Street directly across from DAVID LIAS/FOR THE PLAIN TALK The United Church of Christ—Congregational building was dedicated on Feb. 17, 1929, and the colonial architecture sets it apart from other churches in town. the Jolley residence, was dedicated in November 1881. In 1925, the Congregational Church planned to sell their old building and construct a new one of colonial architecture for $75,000 on the same site fronting Forest Street and to move the manse to the south. In 1928, the Masons sold their lots a block away on the north side of Main and Harvard streets to the Congregational Church for $5,000. The new building was dedicated on Feb. 17, 1929, and the colonial architecture sets it apart from other churches in town. Celebrating 150 Years 1865-2015 St. Paul’s Episcopal Church 10 Linden Ave. Vermillion, SD 57069 605-624-3379 StPaulsVermillion.org Holy Eucharist Sunday, 10am Father Paul Sneve
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