History of St. Paul's, Akron (continued)
The Vestry directed the construction of "suitable seats," but stipulated that sufficient funds be obtained "outside of the church treasury." This showed the financial difficulties of the church, and the women of the parish were probably asked to raise money for this project.
In the Treasurer's Report of April 1895, the amount of $31.75 is recorded to choristers, as well as payments to bass, tenor, alto, and soprano. So, the boys choir was in existence. In the "Year Book of St. Paul's Parish 1896-1897," Miss Helen Storer is listed as director and Miss Minnie Bauer as organist.
When the Reverend J.H.W. Blake became rector in 1898, Brice Steane became the new choirmaster. In the annual Children's Festival, according to a report in the Akron Beacon Journal of April 3, 1898, "Master Carey Wright sang a solo, being accompanied on the violin by his brother, Master Ray Wright." The music of this service was rendered by the children of the Sunday School, assisted by the vested choir. In October of 1898, a financial report indicated that choir boys were paid $10.00.
C. S. Burnham became choirmaster for a short time in 1899, and then Alexander Barr was hired as choirmaster and organist in 1900. In the Vestry Minutes of April 7, 1900, a petition was presented from the boys of the choir "asking the use of some portion of the basement of the church for a gymnasium." Even in 1900, the choirboys wanted some recreational activity away from the declamatory speeches of the choirmaster! The first mention of a choir picnic was in 1903, given by the Vestry; so social activities were being planned for the choirboys.
In 1900, the "Messengers of the King Circle" of St. Paul's, the oldest continuous organization in the church, started to help the choir. In 1904, they assumed entire charge of the choir's needs. They bore the expense of the vestments, new supplies, and new hymnals, as well as being present at all appearances of the choir.
The Rev. S. N. Watson became rector in 1903 and advised the Vestry in 1904 "that he had abolished the pay of the choir boys, stating that he expected to gain better and more satisfactory results by following a different course, using the money to give the boys an occasional party with awards." Evidently, he introduced semi-annual honor awards to the choirboys. The Akron Beacon Journal on June 19, 1905 reported that one young boy, Norman Gardner, received a gold medal for the third time for the "best all-around work." Next time he would receive a "gold star" to be worn permanently. Other awards were given for best attendance and the Rector's Prize for the most improvement. This system of awards continued, and the boys of the choir were still receiving awards in 1916.
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