Readers who have followed our advocacy work with NYU know that much has recently changed on the south side of Washington Square. But the yellow roman brick, limestone, and terra-cotta façade of Judson Memorial Church at 55 Washington Square South, designed by Stanford White, of McKim, Mead, & White and completed in 1893, remains defiantly and elegantly unchanged, and stands as a proud reminder of this neighborhood’s history and this congregation’s special mission. And because it’s an official New York City landmark, the beautiful building – the style of which is described by the Landmarks Preservation Commission as “Italian Renaissance Eclectic” – is here to stay!
The church will be one of eight recipients of a 2011 Village Award, to be presented at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s Annual Meeting on Monday, June 13th. Because the church has provided a home for artists, taken courageous stands and meaningful action for social justice, and welcomed everyone without exception since 1890, we are thrilled to present this award! We hope to see you at our Annual Meeting to partake in the celebration and to honor the eight awardees that make the Village so wonderful.
While this progressive church is being honored for its spiritual openness, artistic endeavors, and social justice activities, it is hard to overlook the beautiful stained glass windows that grace its Meeting Hall. Fourteen of them decorate the sanctuary, and three more can be found in the main stairwell.
All but the rose window were designed by John La Farge between 1892 and 1910; they were manufactured by the Decorative Stained Glass Company and Thomas Wright between 1892 and 1915. La Farge’s work can be seen in other Village churches; his painting “The Ascension of Our Lord,” hangs above the main altar of the Church of the Ascension on Fifth Avenue (the Church of the Ascension, which we were fortunate enough to tour last summer, is also receiving a 2011 Village Award for the recently completed restoration of its nave).
More information about each of Judson’s windows can be found on the church’s website. For an extensive history of the building, you may read the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report on the church, written in 1966 when it was designated an official New York City landmark. For more information on the Church of the Ascension, read the report that was written when the church was listed on the State & National Register of Historic Places.