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St. Luke's Church Building Committee Records

An inventory of the Records at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MD
Date: 3 Feb 2011

Biographical History

St. Luke's Church (incorporated 1887) is an Episcopal parish located in Fairport, New York (near Rochester, New York).

In the early 1960s, having outgrown their Perinton church building, the parish purchased a sixteen acre tract on Ayrault Road (later known as the Brambleridge East subdivision) in Fairport, New York. Under the auspices of rector Dustin Ordway, fund raising for a new building commenced and a Building Committee was formed. According to local press announcements at the time, "the membership of St. Luke's wanted something special . . . something more than 'contemporary ecclesiastical'" (The Brighton-Pittsford Post, 28 Jan 1965). The search for an architect was wide-ranging, targeting leading firms in Rochester and elsewhere, with the ultimate selection going to the large, international firm Marcel Breuer and Associates.

The selection of a world-renowned architect was greeted with much fanfare and occassioned the launch of a publicity campaign, ultimately featuring the model and presentation drawings produced by the Breuer firm. The resulting design, credited to Marcel Breuer and Herbert Beckhard, reflected "Breuer's mastaba building type, a low compact structure with a flat roof and canted sides" (Hyman, Marcel Breuer, Architect. p. 226). Detailed construction specifications were issued, to facilitate the initial bid process, but ultimately the collaboration with Breuer was postponed in April of 1966 due to difficulties with funding.

In May of 1966, St. Luke's entered into a formal arrangement with the firm of Roy D. Murphy and Associates to produce a long range development plan for the property that might eventually include the original Breuer church design. In 1968, a small church structure was completed by Creative Buildings Inc., a firm with a specialization in church construction. The Breuer design was never realized.

In addition to Chairman Thomas Nesbit, other members of the Commitee included: Raymond Beach, Mrs. Avery Beer, Robert Butterfield, Mrs. Henry Martin, Ernest Swart and Romine Foster, among others. (Fairport Herald Mail, 3 Feb 1965)

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The bulk of the material in this collection relates to the Building Committee's work with Roy D. Murphy and Associates. This material includes correspondence, proposals, a detailed analysis of the program, specificiations, drawings for an "immediate construction unit" and construction records. There is a small amount of material related to Marcel Breuer and Associates, including a few pieces of correspondence, some publicity clippings related to the project and a detailed set of construction specifications. In addition, there are several folders of general Committee documents including meeting minutes, church financial reports, and correspondence.

Arrangement of the Collection

The St. Luke's Church Building Committee Records has been arranged in three series: Committe Records containing documents related to the general work of the Building Committe; Building Project I containing records related to work with the architectural firm Marcel Breuer and Associates; and Building Project II relating to work with the architectural firm Roy D. Murphy and Associates.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

See the Marcel Breuer Papers for additional material related to an intial design for St. Luke's Church.

Subject Headings


Beckhard, Herbert.
Breuer, Marcel, 1902-1981.
Nesbit, Thomas.
Ordway, Dustin.

Corporate Bodies

Creative Buildings Incorporated.
Marcel Breuer and Associates.
Roy D. Murphy and Associates.
St. Luke's Episcopal Church (Fairport, N.Y.)


Anglican church buildings.
Architectural design.
Architecture -- Designs and plans.
Architecture -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Architecture -- United States.
Architecture, American.
Church architecture -- United States -- Designs and Plans.

Genres and Forms

Architectural records.
Blueprints (reprographic copies)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

St. Luke's Church Building Committee Records,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Molly Nesbit, facilitated by Barry Bergdoll, 2010.

Table of Contents

Committee Records

Building Plan I. Marcel Breuer and Associates.

Building Plan II. Roy D. Murphy and Associates.