Today is a day of highs and lows in the preservation world. As we chronicle the destruction of two very significant early rowhouses in the East Village, we also take pause to celebrate the anniversary of the consecration of one of the Village’s most beloved landmarks: one-hundred and sixty-five years ago today, on March 7th, 1846, Grace Church was consecrated at Broadway and 10th Street.
The year 1846 was an exciting year for the Gothic Revival. James Renwick Jr.’s design of Grace Church, along with that of Trinity Church on Wall Street by Richard Upjohn in the same year, marked the style’s introduction to New York City. Not only was the church considered a masterpiece of its time in New York, but it was hailed at the time as one of the greatest Gothic works in the country. The land upon which the church was built was purchased from Henry Brevoort, Renwick’s uncle, who was a successful Dutch farmer and land holder who is most remembered for his friendship with Washington Irving.
Unlike medieval Gothic cathedrals, Grace is not built of stone, but rather of Sing Sing marble. It does, however, contain typical Gothic elements such as a rose window above the recessed doorway, a pattern of pointed-arch windows interrupted by exterior buttresses, an overall vertical emphasis culminating in the tall, narrow spire, and stained glass windows. The interior emulated the traditional Gothic style, too, with its plan consisting of a long nave, transept, and choir. The detailed rib vaulting is another notable element.
In 1966, Grace Church and its rectory were designated New York City Landmarks. In 1974, the entire church complex was listed on both the State and National Register of Historic Places.
You can find further information on this and other Village, East Village, and NoHo designated landmarks and historic districts on GVSHP’s Resources webpage.