50 years ago tomorrow, on April 19, 1966, the LPC landmarked St. Mark’s-in-the-Bowery Church. The Church is the oldest site of continuous worship in New York City. The parcel of land was purchased by Peter Stuyvesant in 1651 and a family chapel was erected on the site by 1660. Stuyvesant died in 1672 and was interred in a vault under the chapel.
Stuveysants’s great-grandson sold the property to the Episcopal Church in 1793, which built the existing building on the site in 1799. It is the second oldest church in New York City. Popular of late founding father Alexander Hamilton played a role in incorporating St. Mark’s Church as the first Episcopal parish independent of Trinity Church in the United States.
The church steeple and fence were added in 1828, the portico in 1858, and a brick building was incorporated in 1861. The Ernest Flagg Rectory was added in 1900. The rectory is now the home to the Neighborhood Preservation Center, where GVSHP’s office is located, so we are always thinking about this historic building and consider ourselves lucky to be its neighbor.
St. Mark’s Church has been indelibly interwoven with the fabric of the surrounding neighborhood, and in 1966 supported landmark designation, as you can see from the designation report. Unfortunately, the East Village and New York City have lost many of historically important houses of worship over the past few years, including Mary Help of Christians on Avenue A and 12th Street, and St. Ann’s on East 12th Street where 10 years ago the 160 year old church was demolished to build a 26-story NYU dorm, although the church facade was kept in place. St. Brigids in the East Village on Avenue B and 8th Steer would have been demolished if not for the support of one generous donor.
View the State and National Register Report and Photos, click here to learn about churches of Greenwich Village. The church is also located with in the St. Marks Historic District, designated three years later. Read that designation report here.