The Church of the Holy Comforter was located at Richmond Ave in Eltingville, where the YMCA is now. It was commissioned by farmers in the area in 1865 and was designed by Richard Michell Upjohn, son of the noted Carpenter Gothic architect, Richard Upjohn. In 1873 the building was divided and moved to its present location where it was expanded and enlarged with transepts and a tower.
In 1951 Holy Comforter absorbed the congregation of nearby St. Anne’s Episcopal Church (founded in 1929) in Great Kills, and in a spirit of fairness to the parishioners of both congregations, the church was renamed “St. Alban’s” – after the first British Christian martyr [he was a soldier in the Roman army in the early 3rd century; he was stationed at Verulamium, a city about 20 miles northeast of London, now called St. Alban’s. He gave shelter to a fugitive Christian priest and was converted and baptized by him. When soldiers came to search the house Alban disguised himself as the priest and was arrested, enabling the priest to escape. Alban was brought before the town magistrates where he refused to denounce his new faith, saying ‘I worship and adore the true and living God’. He was condemned to death and beheaded on the hillside where the Cathedral of St. Alban’s now stands.]
St. Alban’s is a New York State Landmark, a New York City Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The interior of the church was renovated in the 1980’s to meet new liturgical practices which use a freestanding altar. At that time the exterior was painted in authentic Victorian colors, which did away with the all-white palette.
The street where St. Alban’s is now was at one time part of the original Amboy Road. Once the road was straightened at Armstrong Ave towards Richmond Ave, the original “curves” became Old Amboy Road (and there’s still a piece of it near Armstrong Ave. on the west side near the BP gas station and the car wash); the section with the church was renamed St. Albans Place.