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 as an independent organization. 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 original temple of Grace Church was located on Broadway, at the corner of Rector Street (illustration below, on the right), 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 late 1830s the Church attendance was declining. By May 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. It was then an apple orchard owned by Henry Brevoort, Jr. at Broadway between Tenth and Eleventh streets.

The cornerstone of the new temple was laid on October 30th, 1843 at the northeast corner of Broadway and 10th Street. James Renwick Jr. (1818-1895), nephew of Brevoort, was the architect. Later, he also designed the temple of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

The original temple was sold by June 1845. Doctor Taylor, the rector, preached the last sermon in the old temple on Sunday, June 15 of that year. The congregation occupied a temporary place of worship until the new temple was ready.

The new temple was designed in Gothic style and constructed with white marble.  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.

The temple was completed with a painted wooden spire to save money. It was pulled down by July 1882, to be replaced by one of stone. By June 1884, the new marble spire had reached the height of 175 feet.

 

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).

 

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

 

Grace Church and the Rectory in a vintage postcard, about 1907.

 

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

 

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Grace Church