St. Paul’s and Trinity Parish is rich in history. St. Paul’s was the first Episcopal parish established in the northern part of Dutchess County, probably as a result of early activity by the “gentlemen of the Manor of Livingston” in 1787 and local demand by the people in Red Hook requesting the services of an Episcopal minister.
However, it wasn’t until September 17, 1816 that the parish was founded with Robert L. Livingston and Edward P. Livingston as church wardens. On July 7, 1818, the corner stone for the original church building, known as the “White Church” was laid, and the church was completed and consecrated by The Right Reverend John Henry Hobart, Bishop of New York, on May 27, 1819.
Originally, St. Paul’s was a summer congregation, consisting principally of wealthy families who had country seats in the vicinity. The number of communicants varied between 20 and 27 until 1850. In time, the congregation outgrew the white church, and they decided to build a stone church closer to the river. The architect for the church was Lawrence Valk.
The sale of the white church site required the transfer of the remains of those buried on the site. In addition, major subscribers to the new church construction project were granted the right to choose sites for burial vaults. The graveyard at the rear of the church grounds contains vaults and mausoleums dating from 1868, and burial sites are still available.
The new church building, a stone structure of Gothic design, was built in 1868-69. The chancel was redesigned in the 1920’s and the narthex was added in 1969. In 1989, the altar was made free standing. One of the windows, the “Paraclete Window” representing the descent of the Holy Spirit upon all faithful Christians was brought from the white church in 1869.
The Hook & Hastings pipe organ was built in 1879 and was for many years at Trinity Church on North Road. In 1970 it was restored and installed in the organ loft at St. Paul’s.
A bronze tablet on the north wall was erected “in memory of the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston of Clermont. A Distinguished member of the Congress of 1776. He held many positions of trust under the government of the Union and State. Minister to the Court of Versailles in 1801. A true and patriotic statesman, philosopher and philanthropist.”
Many of the parishioners have been influential in their own time. The congregation of St. Paul’s Church has from the beginning been united not only by feelings of neighborliness, and in many cases kinship, but also by affectionate regard and intimate friendship.