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The Lyceum
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Chapter Five of the History of St. Peter's Church
The Lyceum
The Lyceum

The Lyceum was organized in 1885 as a young mens sodality. It grew enormously and adapted to the changing needs of the parish. Ultimately, be­sides championship athletic teams, the Lyceum became famous for its cultural pursuits. French, embroidery, dancing, and gymnastic classes were conducted there regularly for the young ladies.

 

St. Peter's Lyceum Players pro­duced such smashing dramatic and musical hits that the auditorium could no longer hold the crowds, and in a downtown theater, they played to standing room only for three nights, plus a matinee performance, every year. Helen Barnett was one of the most successful in­genues, for she became a star on Broadway, the leading lady in George M. Cohan's show, Helen of Troy, NY. At St. Peter's Lyceum, she starred in the early and most prolific days of Troys Gilbert and Sullivan team, Joseph E. Galligan and Michael Fitzpatrick. The Lyceum became one of the most successful youth or­ganizations in the State. However, it, too, was the victim of fire. It burned down in the early morning of November 9,1899. A larger building was built to replace it at a cost of $18,000.00. And the Lyceum reopened in June 1900, to go on to bigger and better things: the Helen Bar­nett shows, the Wachter brothers basketball games, and dances featuring the new fox trot.

 

A January 1934 clipping from a Troy newspaper shows a group of ten St. Peters Players pre­paring for the production of The Best People, a comedy in three acts, directed by the late John R. G. Nicoll. In the group are Dorothy Roach, Sally Downey, Mary Mattimore, Ed Herbert, Thomas Bourke, Margaret McInerney, Wil­liam Dewan, Ed Witbeck, Harry Hartnett, and William Gorman. Dancing followed the perfor­mance, to music provided by the Rhythm Girls.

 

During St. Peter's 150th Anniversary celebra­tions [in 1974], two floors of the Lyceum were needed to accommodate the families of present and for­mer parishioners who attended the Family Communion supper on March 3. And the suc­cessive events: the corned beef dinner on March 14; Saratoga Night in February and Las Vegas Night in May; and the parish Bazaar in September, were conducted in the famous old Lyceum.