Churches of the Greenwich Village Historic District
Churches are found throughout the Greenwich Village Historic District, and were built as early as 1821, and as late as the 1970s, after the district’s designation in 1969 (one of dozens of examples of new buildings built in the district since its designation). They vary widely in size and style, and contribute to the charm and uniqueness of the Village. Here is an exhaustive survey of every church in the Greenwich Village Historic District.
ST. LUKE’S-IN-THE-FIELDS, 479-485 Hudson Street
Starting with the oldest and the farthest west, this little church was built in 1821-22, and originally served as the uptown chapel of Trinity Parish. According to the designation report, it is the third oldest church building still in use in Manhattan. It is built of brick in the Federal style, and very simply massed and adorned as would befit a church originally set in “the country” and surrounded by relatively open farmland. The builder was James N. Wells.
ST. JOHN’S EVANGELICAL CHURCH, 81 Christopher Street
A bit further east but just as old, this church was also built in 1821-22 in the Federal style. Originally known as the Eighth Presbyterian Church, the structure is simple and symmetrical in its design, features round-arched openings, is clad in a stone veneer, and it is topped by an octagonal domed tower with a miniature octagonal spire with ball and cross atop.
ST. JOSEPH’S CHURCH, 365 Sixth Avenue
This Greek Revival temple-form church was built in 1834 and designed by John Doran. Two large Doric columns are set in the entrance portico below a large pediment and a Doric cornice with triglyphs. The arched windows at the Sixth Avenue facade were added during repair following a fire in 1885. It is the oldest extant intact Catholic Church in Manhattan.
CHURCH OF THE ASCENSION, 36-38 Fifth Avenue
This Gothic Revival church was built 1840-41 and serves an Episcopal congregation. It was designed by Richard Upjohn who is known for his Gothic church designs, including Trinity church. Upjohn was largely responsible for the proliferation of the Gothic Revival style throughout the United States in the mid 19th century. The church features the traditional Gothic Revival plan with a tower at the entry and a high nave with clerestory and side aisles.
FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH, 48 Fifth Avenue
Described in the Greenwich Village Historic District designation report as “one of the adornments of lower Fifth Avenue,” this Gothic Revival church was built between 1844 and 1846. It was designed by English-born architect Joseph C. Wells, who later co-founded the American Institute of Architects. It is clad in brownstone and features a large square tower at the eastern end of the nave, and ornament typical of the Gothic Revival style, including pointed arches, quatrefoil tracery, and crocketed finials.
VILLAGE COMMUNITY CHURCH, 143 West 13th Street
This Greek Revival Church was built in 1846 and its design is attributed to architect Samuel Thomson. This church has been rebuilt according to its original design twice due to fire, once in 1855 and again in 1902. Described as hexastyle due to the six Doric columns at its temple-front, it was originally known as the Thirteenth Street Presbyterian Church. In 1982, it was converted into cooperative apartments by architect Stephen B. Jacobs. The church has a connection to one of the most notorious ethnic slurs in American political history, and its pastor was arguably responsible for changing the outcome of a presidential election.
WASHINGTON SQUARE METHODIST CHURCH, 135-139 West 4th Street
Built in 1860 in the early Romanesque Revival style, this church was designed and constructed by Charles Hadden. It was built of marble and the doors and windows are all round-arched with semicircular drip moldings above. The entry is recessed within a large archway which is surmounted by a large central window with elaborate tracery. In 2007 this structure was converted into residences.
THE CITY TEMPLE, 232-236 West 11th Street
Currently the Emmanuel Anglican Church, this structure was built in 1881 in the Queen Anne style and designed by Laurence B. Valk. It was originally the North Baptist Church and it is clad in red brick with band courses of decorative tile work and ashlar stone used at the door and window surrounds as well as at the quoining.
METROPOLITAN-DUANE METHODIST CHURCH, 42-46 Seventh Avenue
This Gothic structure was built in 1931 and designed by Louis E. Jallade at the northwest corner of West 13th Street and Seventh Avenue. Asymmetrical in its arrangement with the square tower to the side of the nave, it is clad in irregular sized stone blocks with ashlar stone used at the quoins seen at the wide corner buttresses. In 2013 Village Preservation, the church, and PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) placed a plaque on the church marking the very first meeting of what would become PFLAG which had taken place there forty years earlier.
TENTH CHURCH OF CHRIST SCIENTIST, 171-173 MacDougal Street
This church was the result of first a remodel and then later a renovation of a six-story Romanesque Revival factory and store built in 1890-91 and designed by Renwick, Aspinwall & Russell. The design for the remodel was done by Victor Christ-Janer & Associates in 1966 and the original facade was covered in red brick with a single narrow window. The renovation was completed in 2009 and involved the restoration of much of the original facade. This renovation involved the successful cooperation of many players, including the architecture and design firm TRA Studio, who headed the project for the developer, Property Markets Group; Hanrahan Meyers Architects for the Church; architectural firm Walter B. Melvin Architect, who oversaw historic preservation of the remaining masonry; and the preservation contracting company Preserv, Inc. The project team was awarded a Regina Kellerman Award at GVSHP’s 2009 Annual Awards.
ST. JOHN’S IN THE VILLAGE, 220 West 11th Street
The church we see today is not the one described in the designation report. The earlier one, a Greek Revival edifice built in 1847, was lost to a fire in 1971. The new structure was built between 1974 and 1978 to the designs of Edgar Tafel, an acolyte of Frank Lloyd Wright’s.