May 6, 2019 In the News
A Guide to NoMad’s Beautiful and Historic Churches

Via the Church of the Transfiguration

As one of the earliest cities to form during the colonization of the New World, New York City today contains a rich, layered tapestry of architecture preserved over generations. Among these are some of the oldest and most beautiful historic churches found anywhere in the country. The NoMad neighborhood is home to a number of these lovely structures. The following churches, representing a breadth of religious denominations, are stunning examples of the architecture of their day, and many are open for tours at different times of the week.

 

Church of the Transfiguration

First founded in 1848, this Episcopal congregation is known for its legacy of openness and social conscience dates back to the Civil War, serving at that time as a stop for the Underground Railroad and a refuge for African-Americans during the Draft Riots of 1863.

It has long been the home of the Episcopal Actors Guild, and was the site of the funeral for the most famous Shakespearean actor of the 19th Century, Edwin Booth (brother to John Wilkes). In fact, the Church has the nickname “The Little Church Around the Corner,” because a minister at a nearby church refused to do a funeral for an actor (considering actors immoral and of lower class status), but said that there was “a little church around the corner” that might do it.

The building was constructed in 1850 in the early English neo-Gothic style and is recognizable by a serene garden in front open for the public to relax and reflect. Once in the center of a neighborhood where New York society made their homes, the church today is on the National Register of Historic Places for its historical and architectural significance as well as its connection with so many famous Americans. The chapel is open most times both for services and numerous music concerts that are free and open to the public.

Guided tours are available on Sundays after the 12:45 p.m. mass.

Church of the Transfiguration
1 East 29th Street
New York, NY 10016
(212) 684-6770

www.littlechurch.org

 

Via Wikipedia by Gryffindor

Marble Collegiate Reformed Church

Just as remarkable as this church’s gorgeous 165-year-old architecture is the fact that its congregation began meeting more than 200 years before the building was built. First founded in 1628 as the Collegiate Reformed Protestant Dutch Church—back when the colony was still called New Amsterdam—this congregation is one of the oldest Protestant churches in North America. Its bells have tolled the deaths of American Presidents since Martin Van Buren on July 24th, 1862

Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, served as the senior minister here for the better part of the 20th Century (1932-1984), attracting presidents and celebrities to the church.

The building itself, completed in 1854, was designed in a Romanesque Revival style with Gothic trim by architect Samuel A. Warner. The church derives its name today from the Tuckahoe marble that covers its façade.

The congregation offers tours of the building on select Sundays after service, as well as during the week by appointment.

Marble Collegiate Reformed Church
One West 29th Street
New York, NY 10001
(212) 686-2770

www.marblechurch.org

 

Left: Sanctuary entrance in the Roger Williams Hotel; Right: Location at 154 Lexington Ave
Via Wikipedia

Madison Avenue Baptist Church

The history of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in many ways parallels the relentless building, tearing down, and rebuilding that occurs within the city itself. To capture the visual remnants of the church’s history, you’ll have to visit two sites:

1. 154 Lexington Avenue, a clean Lombardian-Romanesque building which served as Madison Avenue Baptist Church’s second home until 1858. Since 1869, this handsome building has housed the First Moravian Church. It contains one of the country’s most famous organs, which was built by Henry Erben in 1840 and renovated in 2015.

2. East 31st Street and Madison Avenue, where the church has occupied two different structures since 1858.

Most remarkable about the church’s history is that in 1929, Madison Avenue Baptist Church made the unconventional decision to raze its magnificent church building at 31st and Madison, which had occupied the space since the 1850s, and lease the property to developers to build the 15-story Roger Williams Hotel (now known as The Roger). Under the agreement, the church would have a new sanctuary integrated into the hotel structure. The church façade today dates back to the 1930s, reflecting the industrial/Art Deco feel that dominated the architecture of that time. The only remnants of the previous building are the historic Zettler stained glass windows, donated to the church in the late 1800s by Elizabeth Lake Milbank.

Madison Avenue Baptist Church
129 Madison Avenue
New York, NY 10016
(212) 685-1377

www.mabcnyc.org

 

Via Flickr by Kent G. Becker

Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava (Trinity Chapel)

Originally constructed as Trinity Chapel in the English Gothic Revival style in 1850-55, this historic building at 15 West 25th Street was originally built to serve the then burgeoning social neighborhood as a chapel of the also-historic Trinity Church, which still stands in the Financial District.  Famed author Edit Warton was married here.

The Serbian Eastern Orthodox church purchased the building in the early 1940s and soon opened the church as the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, the mother church of the Serbian Orthodox Church in America.

In 2016, the church was almost completely destroyed in a massive four-alarm fire caused by unextinguished candles after Easter Sunday service, leaving only the stone walls barely intact.

Today, passers-by can view the remnants of the stone structure while the church is in the process of rebuilding. In months and years to come, we look forward to seeing this historic church return to its former glory.

Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava
15 West 25th Street
New York, NY 10010

Current Address (During Rebuilding):
20 West 26th Street
New York, NY 10010
(212) 242-9240

www.stsavanyc.org

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