Saint James the Apostle and Our Lady of
the Lake Parish
Our Lady of the Lake
In the early 1920's the number of Catholics surrounding Lake Carmel was small and the people scattered. However, in May of 1930 the New York Daily Mirror, and developers, began a project at Lake Carmel. Two small lakes were joined to form the present lake, and surrounding land was divided into small inexpensive lots, selling for $96.50 per lot. With the newspaper's support, the area boomed far beyond even the most optimistic expectations.
The Catholic population rose with the development of the Lake Carmel area, however, they had no convenient place to worship. The little green Church of St. James was too small, and St. John's in Mahopac was too far away. For a short time our people heard Mass celebrated by the Graymoor Friars of the Atonement, in a clubhouse known as “Quigley’s,” but in time even this arrangement proved inadequate.
The faithful gathered together and planned to build their own church. A committee was formed with P. Stephen Noonan as chairman, with Francis Miller, Building; Walter McKay, Financial Secretary; and Ruth Bracht, Secretary. During the summer of 1934 at the suggestion of Leon Schwartz a site was selected. Dr. Warren Smadbeck, the developer of Lake Carmel, was called and the land was ready to be purchased. Dr. Smadbeck generously offered to donate the entire plot of 50 lots and the committee accepted with thanks. With great sacrifice of time and energy, fieldstones were gathered from all over the county and piled at a site now known as Noonan Road. On July 5, 1936, the efforts of these ambitious faithful were rewarded when ground was broken and Mass celebrated in a tent to ask God's blessing on the project. The architect was John Brennan and Peter VanderPutten, Engineer and Judge John J. Brennan who with the assistance of 20 of his friends that were professional builders contributed largely to the building of the Church. Two years later, in the summer of 1938, the beautiful Church of Our Lady of the Lake opened its doors to enthusiastic worshipers.
For 9 years Our Lady of the Lake was under the direct responsibility of the Pastors and priests from St. John's in Mahopac. In 1947 Cardinal Spellman erected the new Parish of St. James in Carmel. Rev. Edward McQuade, the first pastor of St. James was notified that he would also care for Our Lady of the Lake and that it was to be attached to St. James.
Over the years Our Lady of the Lake became more than a church for summer vacationers. With the end of World War II and with new roads opening up, the year-round residential population emerged as residents began moving permanently to Lake Carmel.
The beautiful stone church was decorated inside with sanctuary furnishing appropriate for the celebration of Tridentine Latin Mass. The sanctuary and high altar was graced with a large crucifix which hung in the center of apse. In the 1950s this cross was altered and lowered to be placed in front of draperies beneath a baldachin above the High Altar and tabernacle. The baldachin and draperies have been removed in 1964 after the Second Vatican Council and a temporary altar was placed facing the people. Four statues were placed in the sanctuary: Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph, St. Therese of the Child Jesus and St. Anthony of Padua. Two of those original statues of Terese and Anthony still can be seen in the present Church. The stained glass windows represent the major titles of the Virgin Mary from the Litany of Our Lady. One of these windows represent the Carmelite Crest of Mt. Carmel with three stars and the Crown of Mary. This window of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is prophetic of the dedication that we celebrated on September 14, 2002.
The entire church was redecorated in March 1964. Several years later the parking area was graded and surfaced. A wheel chair ramp, a new septic system and air conditioning was added. The basement, which includes a meeting room, was renovated for religious education classes and the Pre-K program.
Two masses are celebrated every Sunday morning. The church is also used for weddings, funerals, and special prayer services.
Recently the roof was completely restored and currently we are poised to begin work on permanent sanctuary furnishing, including a new altar, ambo, tabernacle, celebrant's chair and deacon's chair.
The quaint old stone church continues to flourish with an abundance of faithful and dedicated parishioners. On September 14th, 2002 we asked Our Lady of Mount Carmel to be our patroness and continue to ask Her son to bless us and save us.SOURCE: http://members.aol.com/stjoll/a_brief_history_of_oll.htm