by Kevin Walsh

THE name Russell Sage pops up in two disparate areas in Queens that otherwise have nothing to do with the other. The doyenne of Far Rockaway churches is the Russell Sage Memorial First Presbyterian Church, on Central Avenue facing the north end of Beach 9th.

Financier and philanthropist Russell Sage (1815-1906) left a considerable fortune to his widow Margaret Olivia Slocum Sage (1828-1918), who established Russell Sage College for Women in his hometown, Troy, NY, established bird sanctuaries in Louisiana, and founded NYC’s Russell Sage Foundation, dedicated to research in social welfare, public health, education, government, and law. Mrs. Sage also funded this magnificent building, the magnificent First Presbyterian Church, a.k.a. The Sage Memorial Church, with its stained glass windows designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. It was built in 1909 by Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson.

Meanwhile, on Yellowstone Boulevard and Austin Street in Forest Hills we find the Art Moderne-ish Russell Sage Junior High School. It’s possible that it was funded with the aid of the Russell Sage Foundation, but I can’t be sure as official NYC websites are reluctant to talk about the architecture or origins of its public school buildings.

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Anonymous December 30, 2022 - 5:26 am

Maybe wrong but I bet that church once had a steeple.

LF December 30, 2022 - 11:30 am

Or, it was intended to have one at one time but the plan was abandoned? It does look sort of unfinished.

Kenneth Buettner December 30, 2022 - 10:36 am

Due to the high cost of repair and restoration, many churches have been removing steeples over time. This has been especially the case of damaging storms like Hurricane Sandy and the many un-named storms that have been coming with global warming.
In 2010 the 200 year-old 45-foot wooden steeple on St. George’s Episcopal Church in Flushing was toppled in an un-named storm. A successful fund raising effort allowed a historically accurate replacement to be installed in 2016. Such fund raising efforts are not usually successful in financially struggling parishes or congregations.
The Russell Sage Memorial Church, in Neo-Gothic style, however, is not one of those that lost it’s steeple, however. It was built with a tower, but not a steeple as was another common design.

Peter December 30, 2022 - 11:16 am

Russell Sage College has something in common with the University of Florida: their sports teams are called the Gators.

philipe December 30, 2022 - 2:23 pm

Perhaps not. Many older churches had similar towers.
The old Trinity Lutheran Church Lutheran Cemetery, Middle Village,
was one.

Andy December 30, 2022 - 3:48 pm

Russell Sage JHS in Forest Hills is no doubt so named because in 1908 Margaret Sage, the founder of the Russell Sage Foundation, bought 142 acres of land from the Cord Meyer Development Company. This land was to be used for Forest Hills Gardens, a development at the southern side of Forest Hills

More information from Wikipedia:,_Queens

Sergey Kadinsky January 3, 2023 - 1:23 pm

That middle school is my alma mater.


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