Grace Church

 

The Grace Church in Manhattan is part of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Its temple is now located at 800 Broadway. It occupies the southern half of a trapezoidal block bounded by East 10th Street, Fourth Avenue and Broadway, where Broadway commences its westward slant across Manhattan.

Grace Church was conceived in 1801 by the Rector of Trinity Church and the Protestant Episcopal society of Grace Church was founded in 1805. They built its first temple on Broadway, southwest corner of Rector Street, between 1806 and 1809. On the same site, a Lutheran Church was built in 1671 and destroyed by the great fire of 1776. Trinity Church is across Rector Street. The first worship service at Grace Church was held on December 21, 1808. A charity school was opened in 1823.

The first temple of the Grace Church was a fine edifice of brick, 101 feet long by 57 feet wide, with a neat cupola with columns of the Ionic order. The rear of the temple was of an elliptical form, with a terraced garden and the Rector's house adjoining. The interior had four massy pillars supporting an arched ceiling. The pulpit was in front of the ellipsis, with a railed mahogany enclosure surrounding the altar. In the gallery, fronting the pulpit, was a large organ made by Geib. The Erben organ was built in 1830. In the early 1850s, a commercial building occupied the site. The Empire Building, completed in 1898, occupies the site today.

In the late 1830s the Church attendance was declining. By 1843, the society of Grace Church decided to built a larger temple farther north. The land for the new temple (where the church sits today) was purchased from Henry Brevoort that year. The cornerstone was laid on October 30th, the same year. James Renwick Jr. (1818-1895), nephew of Brevoort, was the architect. Later, he also designed the temple of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

The new temple was designed in Gothic style and constructed with white marble. It was completed with a wooden spire to save money and it was consecrated on March 7, 1846 (the Gothic temple of Trinity Church was consecrated  on May 21, the same year). Plaster and lath was used in the Gothic interior. A marble spire was installed decades later. In 1847, the Rectory was completed. In 1879, the Chantry was built next to the church to house the choir and Sunday school. Later, it was constructed a parish house that connected the church to the rectory. More buildings were added the following years, including for the Grace Church School, organized in 1894.

 

Grace Church

 

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Old illustration of the Grace Church on Broadway, corner of East 10th St., consecrated in 1846 (from gracechurchnyc.org).

 

Trinity Church

 

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Old Grace Church

 

19th century

 

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Grace Church church interior architecture (from gracechurchnyc.org).

 

Grace Church in a vintage postcard, about 1907.

 

Copyright © Geographic Guide - Old photographs of NYC.

 

The first temple of the Grace Church on Broadway, corner of Rector Street (illustration published in Views in New-York and its environs, 1831 - source NYPL).

 

Antique photographs

 

Grace Church