Cassidy Family - St. Lucy's Church

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Origins of the three village churches

By Carol DuBrin

St. Lucy's Church

St. Lucy's Roman Catholic Church has a more recent history.

The Guilderland area was settled by staunch Dutch and German Protestants. It wasn't until after the Civil War when the rail - road helped establish Knowersville (Altamont) as a summer resort, that a need for a Catholic place of worship arose. Very wealthy Albany and New York families built beautiful summer homes on the mountain above the village. A resort hotel for more transient vacationers, Kushaqua, was built in 1885 by Col. William Church, our patroon, holder of those land leases still in effect from the days of Dutch settlement.

At that time, Ireland was going through terrible famine and many a young girl was coming to this country to make a new start. These girls found positions as maids in the homes of the wealthy, coming with these families to their summer homes.

A most notable summer resident was Lucy Cassidy, the widow of the prominent Democrat and business leader, William Cassidy. A Catholic herself, she founded a chapel in 1887 so those "dear maids" would have a place to worship. She named this in honor of her patron saint, St Lucy.

That gem of a church stands on what is now Grand Street. It was renovated and enlarged in 1921 and 1928. One of its lovely stained glass windows was dedicated to Mrs. Lucy Cassidy.

She also brought one other change to Knowersville: she lived on the Alta (high) Mont (mountain) above the village and favored changing the village name to that. There had been much confusion between Knowersville in Albany county and Knowlesville in Orleans county. There was a lot of misdirected mail, among other things. Lucy had the clout of politics and friendship. She had frequently entertained Grover Cleveland when he was governor of New York. He knew the village. W

hen the postmaster general went to the President, Cleveland was quoted as saying, "If Mrs. Cassidy is interested in having that post office named Altamont, Altamont it shall be!"

And, so here we are, the village of Altamont, served by three very active and cooperative churches — Altamont Reformed, St. John's Lutheran, and St. Lucy's Catholic.

Altamont Enterprise February 4, 1999