SPENCERTOWN — This year marks the 250th anniversary of St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church on the Green in Spencertown. The Committee formed to plan events to celebrate this anniversary considered ways to involve the community-at-large and perhaps introduce newcomers to the Church as a beautiful, historic building in our midst, as well as potential worship site.
Spencertown resident Rita Van Alstyne, proprietor of R.H. Van Alstyne Jewelry Store on Main Street in Chatham for the past 30 years, jumped at the opportunity to participate in the 250th celebration. Inspired by the church’s distinctive weathervane, Rita created two pendants featuring designs of the sun and the moon that are part of the weathervane.
Van Alstyne enlisted long-time colleague Angelo Gassoso to develop her designs into finished pieces. Gassoso came to America from Italy at the age of 16 — decades ago — and began his career in the jewelry busines in New York City as a hand engraver. He advanced through the business, working at several high-end stores in New York City, including Cartier, where he managed its workshop for a time. He has since fulfilled his lifelong dream of having his own business in Manhattan.
For this project, Gassoso carved the wax models developed from Rita’s designs, made the molds, and enlisted a casting company to prepare the 14-karat gold sun and moon pendants. Diamonds in the designs have added special sparkle.
A search of Church records and local newspapers turned up no information on when or why St. Peter’s chose the design for the weathervane that sits atop its steeple. However, when the Friends of Historic St. Peter’s Church oversaw major restoration work about 15 years ago, one of the targets was the weathervane, which had suffered significant deterioration (see photo); it has been restored, including gilt on the images.
The 250th Anniversary Committee expressed its delight and gratitude at Rita’s generosity in designing and overseeing the creation of these pieces. One hundred raffle tickets will be sold for $25 a ticket, with two winners to be selected in December, just in time for holiday gift-giving.
Raffle tickets will be available at the RH Van Alstyne Jewelry Store on Main Street in Chatham, or tickets may be purchased by mailing your check to the Friends of Historic St. Peter’s Church, PO Box 278, Spencertown, NY 12165. You may also visit the Friends’ website (www.friendsofsaintpeters.org) to purchase raffle tickets.