Tag Archives: church

Our Lady of Pompeii

Our Lady of Pompeii

Our Lady of Pompeii Roman Catholic Church is prominently sited on Bleecker Street at Carmine Street. It replaces an earlier church that had been demolished during widening of Sixth Avenue.

Our Lady of Pompeii Vital Statistics
Our Lady of Pompeii Recommended Reading

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Church of St. Thomas the Apostle

Church of St. Thomas the Apostle in Harlem is stunning architecture, even without its stained glass. Abandoned by the Catholic Church and once destined for demolition, the former church has found a new life as a community arts center.

The Archdiocese of New York closed the church in 2003 in the wake of declining attendance and ballooning maintenance costs. Although community groups sued to prevent demolition, the church transferred its German stained glass windows to Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Church in LaGrangeville, NY in 2008. Meanwhile, the crumbling Harlem edifice was in limbo until 2012.

That’s when Artimus, a developer, purchased the church, its school and a nearby vacant lot from the Archdiocese of New York. The developer has since restored the front and rear walls and the ceiling. Additional restoration is continuing. Artimus is also converting the church’s school to affordable housing, and is to build a 10-story apartment house on a nearby vacant lot.

Church of St. Thomas the Apostle Vital Statistics
Church of St. Thomas the Apostle Recommended Reading

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St. Bartholomew’s Church

St. Bartholomew’s Church was a legal, as well as architectural landmark; its status was contested all the way to the Supreme Court. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) had designated the church and its Community House landmarks in 1967 – over the objections of the church. In 1981 the church sought to replace the community house with a 59-story office building, in order to raise cash. The LPC rejected the plans, setting off a legal battle over whether churches could be subject to historic ordinances. LPC prevailed and the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal.

The current church is St. Bart’s third site: The congregation was organized in 1835 at Lafayette Place and Great Jones Street; in 1872 it moved uptown to Madison Avenue and E 44th Street; in 1918 it moved to the Park Avenue location.

Though the church proper was designed by Bertram G. Goodhue, the three-door Romanesque porch was designed by McKim, Mead & White. The entryway, part of the Madison Avenue church, had been built as a memorial to Cornelius Vanderbilt II; it was moved to the new building.

The Community House was erected nine years later, designed by Goodhue’s associates Mayers, Murray & Phillip. (Goodhue died in 1924.) The Community House and adjoining terrace are the site of a restaurant, “Inside Park.”

Mayers, Murray & Phillip also designed the dome, erected in 1930 in place of the steeple that had been planned but never built.

St. Bartholomew’s Church Vital Statistics
  • Location: 109 E 50th Street at Park Avenue
  • Year completed: 1919 (church); 1928 (Community House); 1930 (dome)
  • Architect: Bertram G. Goodhue (church); Mayers, Murray & Phillip (Community House & dome)
  • Style: Byzantine & Romanesque
  • New York City Landmark: 1967
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1980
St. Bartholomew’s Church Suggested Reading

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Church of the Incarnation

Church of the Incarnation and the adjoining H. Percy Silver Parish House (originally a rectory) have served the Murray Hill neighborhood for a century and a half, rebuilt after a serious fire in 1882. The rectory got a new facade in 1906, and was converted to a parish house in 1934.

Apart from the building’s longevity and classical design, the church is significant for its works of art: Stained glass windows, murals and sculpture by John LaFarge, Louis C. Tiffany, William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones, Christopher LaFarge, Daniel Chester French, Henry Hobson Richardson and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The church’s website includes a virtual tour of the artwork. The Wikipedia entry also contains a list of the artworks and artists.

Several architects were involved in the church and parish house. Emlen Littell designed the original church; David Jardine designed the restoration (after the 1882 fire), which slightly modified the original plans; Heins & LaFarge designed the spire that was added in 1896. (A spire was part of Littell’s original plans, but not built.) The rectory (later parish house) has been attributed to Robert Mook, but may have actually been designed by Littell. In any case, the facade was rebuilt in 1806 in the design by Edward Pearce Casey – switching from Victorian Gothic to neo-Jacobean style.

Church of the Incarnation Vital Statistics
  • Location: 205 Madison Avenue at E35th Street
  • Year completed: 1864 (church), 1868 (parish house)
  • Architect: Emlen T. Littell (church), Robert Mook (parish house)
  • Style: Gothic Revival (church), Renaissance Revival (parish house)
  • New York City Landmark: 1979
  • National Register of Historic Places: 1982
Church of the Incarnation Suggested Reading

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Church of St. Francis of Assisi

The Church of St. Francis of Assisi is a colorfully ornate example of Gothic Revival – more colorful than what we’re accustomed to in sacred architecture. The mosaics on the outside are just a hint of what you’ll find inside – the upper church contains what was once said to be the largest mosaic in the United States, “The Glorification of the Mother of Jesus” (1925).

The church has a colorful history, too. It was created as the result of a dispute between the Bishop of New York and trustees of the nearby church St. John the Baptist. The pastor, Father Zachary Kunz, petitioned the Bishop to open a new church, and St. Francis of Assisi was the result.

Alas, the church became a “parish without parishioners” as working class residents moved out of the neighborhood in the late 1800s-early 1900s. That’s the period of time when the district became known as “The Tenderloin.” The Franciscan Friars who ran the church began ministering to people who worked, rather than lived, in the neighborhood. This meant celebrating Mass throughout the day and night, among other things. Of more recent historical note, Fr. Mychal Judge, O.F.M., a chaplain of the New York Fire Department, died at the World Trade Center South Tower on Sept. 11, 2001. Father Mychal became the first officially recorded fatality following the terrorist attack.

Church of St. Francis of Assisi Vital Statistics
  • Location: 135 W 31st Street
  • Year completed: 1892
  • Architect: Henry Erhardt
  • Style: Gothic Revival
Church of St. Francis of Assisi Suggested Reading

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Riverside Church

Riverside Church is the tallest church in the U.S., visible for miles along Riverside Drive and Riverside Park (as is the neighboring General Grant National Memorial). Interestingly, the 392-foot tower isn’t just for the bells – it’s the equivalent of an office building. As The New York Times reported, “The tower was not simply symbolic; it held offices, social rooms, classrooms, a bowling alley, a theater and similar spaces.”

Although Riverside Church is designed in the Gothic style, it is structurally modern: A steel frame, not the too-shallow buttresses, supports the weight of the tower.

Riverside Church Vital Statistics
Riverside Church Recommended Reading

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71-75 E 93rd Street

71-75 E 93rd Street (aka 1180 Park Avenue) is a beautifully maintained Neo-Federal mansion in Manhattan’s Carnegie Hill section, and the cornerstone of a complex of four adjoining buildings at the corner of E 93rd Street and Park Avenue.

The five-story building was originally built for financier Francis F. Palmer, and completed in 1918. (The building is still sometimes referred to as the Francis F. Palmer House.)

George F. Baker, Jr., another financier, purchased the mansion in 1927 and expanded it with three extensions: a garage (69 E 93rd Street), ballroom wing (1180 Park Avenue) and townhouse residence for his father (67 E 93rd Street). All four buildings were designed by Delano & Aldrich, a prominent architectural firm of the early 1900s. With the main house, the ballroom and garage form a courtyard open to E 93rd Street.

(George Baker, Sr. died before his home was completed; his daughter-in-law later occupied the house.)

The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia – exiles from Soviet oppression – purchased the main house and ballroom wing in 1958 with funds donated by Russian-born banker Serge Semenenko.

Financier Richard Jenrette purchased 67 and 69 E 93rd Street in 1987 and 1988. These homes are now headquarters of Classical American Homes Preservation Trust.

The George F. Baker, Jr. House Complex is subject of three NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission designations – and part of the Expanded Carnegie Hill Historic District.

71-75 E 93rd Street Vital Statistics
71-75 E 93rd Street Recommended Reading

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