St. Benedict the Moor's Church (New York City)

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St. Benedict the Moor's Church
20110204.042.NYC.Midtown.Clinton.342W53rdSt.St.BenedictheMoorCh.c.1890.338-342.Rectory.d.1965.JosMitchell.Taken by James Russiello.jpg
St. Benedict the Moor's Church at 342 West 53rd Street (to right) and the rectory at 338-342 West 53rd Street (to left), which was built in 1965 to the designs of architect Joseph Mitchell
General information
Architectural style Italianate (church)
Town or city Hell's Kitchen / Clinton, Manhattan, New York City, New York
Country United States
Completed 1869 (church)[1]
1965 (for rectory)[2]
Cost $220,000 (for 1965 rectory)[2]
Client Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York
Design and construction
Architect Joseph Mitchell of 355 West 54th Street (for 1965 rectory)[2]

The Church of St. Benedict the Moor is a Roman Catholic parish church in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, located at 342 West 53rd Street, Hell's Kitchen (Clinton), Manhattan, New York City, New York.

Parish[edit]

In 1883 a black Catholic mission parish, St. Benedict the Moor's Church, was established by the Rev. Thomas Farrell to serve the African-American community in Lower Manhattan. It was the first church in the city for black Catholics[3] and the first north of the Mason-Dixon line.[1] In 1892, the parish took over the former Third Universalist Church at 210 Bleecker Street, at a time when many African Americans lived in southern Manhattan.[4] It renamed that church for its parish.

As the black population moved north, in 1898 the parish took over the former Second German Church of the Evangelical Association at 342 W. 53rd Street in Hell's Kitchen, renaming it as St. Benedict the Moor's Church.[1] More change came by the end of the next two decades. In the 1920s, many of the parishioners moved with other African Americans to Harlem, New York,[1] which became a center of African-American life.

Since 1953 the church in Hell's Kitchen has been staffed by Spanish friars of the Third Order of St. Francis (T.O.R.), and it was rededicated in 1954. The parish has been reduced to mission status, and is maintained by members of the new Lumen Christi congregation. Although recommended for closure during an initial review, the Archdiocese announced on January 19, 2007 that the church would retain its parish status.[5]

Buildings[edit]

St. Benedict the Moor RC Church (Photographed in 1929 by P. L. Sperr); The rowhouse to the left has been demolished and replaced with the 1965 rectory and alley, the Marian statue has been removed from the church and added to the rectory. The house to the right of the church has similarly been demolished with a c.1980 apartment building.

The Italianate-style red brick pedimented church was built in 1869, designed by R.C. McLane & Sons for the Second German Church of the Evangelical Association.[1] After the parishioners moved out of the area, St. Benedict the Moor's Church, a black Catholic parish, took over this building in 1898, with its own parishioners move north in Manhattan.

The church has been staffed by Spanish friars since 1953. A three-storey rectory at 338-342 West 53rd Street was built in 1965 to the designs of Joseph Mitchell, of 355 West 54th Street, for $220,000. That rectory reused the statue of the Virgin Mary with outstretched arms from the church.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "St. Benedict the Moor Church", NYC AGO, accessed 21 March 2015
  2. ^ a b c Office for Metropolitan History, "Manhattan NB Database 1900-1986," (Accessed 25 Dec 2010).
  3. ^ David W. Dunlap, From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.) p. 219.
  4. ^ The World Almanac 1892 and Book of Facts (New York: Press Publishing, 1892), p.390
  5. ^ Michael Luo, "Archdiocese to Shut 21 N.Y. Parishes," New York Times, January 19, 2007, Retrieved 21 July 2011.

Coordinates: 40°45′52.81″N 73°59′11.61″W / 40.7646694°N 73.9865583°W / 40.7646694; -73.9865583