In the summer of 1866, a wooden building of Gothic design was erected on the site of our present stone church. This building, named the Saint Barnabas Chapel, held its first service on November 7, 1866.
The founder of the chapel was the Reverend Charles Douglas, Rector of St. John's Islip, now known as St. John's Oakdale. As this was the only Episcopal church on the immediate south shore, people traveled some distance to attend church. The Reverend encouraged people to establish churches within their own communities, and as a result, St. Paul's, Patchogue, St. Mark's, Islip, and St. Barnabas came into being.
Our original chapel was launched by John R. Suydam, a lay person, who spent five hundred dollars for the original property. The approximate 12 acres were purchased from James and Deborah Edwards.
St. Barnabas Chapel remained a mission of St. John's between 1866 and 1874. In 1873, the Right Reverend Abram N. Littlejohn, first Bishop of Long Island, named the Reverend John H. Prescott as missionary in charge of both St. Barnabas and St. Paul's. The Reverend lost little time converting St. Barnabas into a parish. On April 30, 1874, a certificate of incorporation was issued for the new church under the name of St. Ann's, named after Mr. Suydam's wife.
In 1875, nearly half of the acreage was organized into the St. Ann's Cemetery. By 1879, the Rectory was built, financed by a parishioner, Israel Corse. In 1887, Mr. Suydam and his sister, Mrs. Cutting, decided to erect a stone church. The old church was moved from its site to a few yards east, to make room. On October 14, 1888, St. Ann's was consecrated by Bishop Littlejohn. In 1923, Bishop Burgess laid the cornerstone for the new home for orphaned children being built on the property south of the church. By 1925, he again laid stone for the boy's cottage, a second building to be built. The western gateway of the cemetery was dedicated in 1930. The parish hall was lost to a fire in 1959, and rebuilt.
St. Ann's was described in 1888 as "a gem of church architecture and the most beautiful Episcopal edifice on Long Island outside of Brooklyn." The interior is perhaps even more beautiful than the exterior. The first thing that attracts one's attention are the seven stained glass windows in the apse. These were designed by J. A. Holzer, chief designer for Tiffany's. They were installed between 1888 and 1892. The Rose window, also a Tiffany, is about 5 feet wide and 4" thick in the center.
Coming soon: A pictorial tour of the inside of the church featuring the beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows.