HISTORY OF ST. ANDREW’S BY THE SEA
In the closing years of the 19th century, a group of Hyannisport Episcopalians proposed the establishment of a summer church. In its earliest days, services were held in the Old School House on Scudder Avenue and, beginning in 1897, at the Union Chapel. Around that time Dr. E. F. Whittemore and his wife Augusta Stone Whittemore of Orange, New Jersey, purchased property at the top of Sunset Hill, intending to build a summer house. However, Dr. Whittemore died not long afterwards, and his ashes were buried on the vacant hill top.
Soon after, Mrs. Whittemore learned that Hyannisport Episcopalians were searching for a suitable place to build. Believing that the land had already been made holy by virtue of her husband’s ashes, she offered to donate the land for the church and the tower in memory of her husband. The cornerstone was laid by The Right Reverend Cortlandt Whitehead, Bishop of Pittsburgh, on July 31st, 1906. In the early 1900’s, canon law of the Episcopal Church was very strict, requiring that every new church building had to be paid for in full before it could be consecrated. So, finally, five years later, August 12, 1911, the Right Reverend William Lawrence, Bishop of Massachusetts, officiated at the consecration of the stone church and tower of St. Andrews-by-the-Sea.
Services and service times have changed over the years. Sunday School at 10 am continued until shortly after World War II. In 2004 a single Holy Eucharist replaced the 8 am Holy Communion and 11 am Morning Prayer and Holy Communion services, which had been in place for nearly a century. More recent summers have seen the addition of June services, visiting vocal soloists, and a series of Sunday Sunset musical events. Baptisms, funerals, and memorial services have been recorded since the earliest summers.
The present Priest-in Charge is the Reverend Robert Anthony. Memorial gifts from every decade are present throughout the church and its grounds, including the Memorial Sheepfold overlooking Nantucket Sound.
Historic events have been commemorated at St. Andrew’s over the years. On August 16th, 1945, worshippers overflowed the church at a candlelight service, held to give thanks for the end of World War II. Dr. Charles W. Sheerin of Washington stressed the need for “humility during this great hour of victory,” and many familiar hymns were sung.
Kathleen Graff, Historian