Welcome to Grace Church, a Gothic revival masterpiece designed by James Renwick, Jr. In 1843 the land under the current Grace Church was purchased from Henry Brevoort. The 23 year old architect James Renwick, Jr.–a nephew of Henry Brevoort–whose sole completed work at the time was the Bowling Green Fountain, was commissioned as the architect. A few later works by Renwick include St. Patrick¹s Cathedral, the Smithsonian Institution castle, and St Ann¹s Church (now part of Packer Institute) in Brooklyn. It is a National Historic Landmark designated for its architectural significance and place within the history of New York City.
The cornerstone for the new church was laid in 1843 and Grace Church was consecrated in 1846. Vestry minutes from January of that year breakdown some of the expenses for building a new church–including items ranging from the cost of the workers from the State Prison who cut the stone to the cost of the embroidery for the altar cloth. Like Trinity Church (also consecrated in 1846), Grace Church was designed in the Gothic Revival style, and despite the wood, plaster (scored to look like stone) and lathe construction–as opposed to the stone construction of medieval Gothic cathedrals.
Before you turn to walk past the chancel, stop to look at the baptismal font with its carved canopy, designed in 1894 by William Appleton Potter. The font is octagonal allegedly because only eight people survived the biblical flood, Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives, illustrated in the surrounding mosaics. On the next photo, you can see the detail of the wall behind the font.
North Aisle Door.
The East window over the high altar created by Clayton & Bell in 1878, dominates the chancel, and the whole church. A ?Te Deum? window, its theme is praise. The figures with their faces raised toward Christ, who is seated at the top center, represent prophets, apostles, martyrs and all the world.
The reredos, with mosaic figures of the evangelists, is made of French and Italian Marble and Caen Stone, and shows the four Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, flanking the Risen Christ as he gives the great commission, “Go into all the world and make disciples…” This piece, along with the altar, was designed by James Renwick Jr. and executed by Ellin & Kitson in 1878. The Choir furniture was installed in 1903 after the chancel was lengthened an additional fifteen feet in a renovation designed by Heins and La Farge. The next photo is detail of the altar floor.
South Aisle Door.
As you continue toward the South aisle, notice the pulpit, on your right designed by Welles Bosworth in 1893.
Organ pipes can be seen at the front of the south aisle of the church.
Having walked around the pulpit you will now be walking back toward the West end of the church. The next aisle to the left leads to a narrow door that opens into the Chantry, a chapel designed by Edward T. Potter in 1879 to be used for a children’s Sunday School and weekday services.
The Holy Table and credence were designed by Bertram Grovesnor Goodhue in 1914.
Window from the Honor Room
William Renwick, (nephew of the original architect) redesigned the exterior of the Chantry and added an outdoor pulpit (to the right) in 1910 after the acquisition of the land now known as Huntington Close. The Chantry was refurbished early in the twentieth century.
Come visit Grace Church! Every Sunday at 1 p.m. we offer a free guided tour of the worship space. As thousands of visitors tell us each year, this beautiful Gothic revival building evokes awe, praise and worship. Grace Church is a national, state and city historic landmark. If you would like to help preserve this place for future generations to enjoy, please click here
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