St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church (Manhattan)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Coordinates: 40°42′45″N 74°00′34″W / 40.712488°N 74.009501°W / 40.712488; -74.009501

Saint Peter Catholic Church, New York
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church 22 Barclay Street.jpg
Location 22 Barclay Street,
Manhattan, New York City
Built 1836-1840[1]
Architect John R. Haggerty and Thomas Thomas
Architectural style Greek Revival
NRHP Reference # 80002721
Significant dates
Added to NRHP April 23, 1980
Designated NYCL December 21, 1965

St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church at 22 Barclay Street at the corner of Church Street in the Financial District of Manhattan, New York City was built in 1836-40 and was designed by John R. Haggerty and Thomas Thomas in the Greek Revival style, with six Ionic columns.[2] The parish, part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, is the oldest Roman Catholic parish in New York State, and the building replaced an earlier one built in 1785-86.[3]

The church was designated a New York City landmark in 1965[4] and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.


The 1785 church

A gift of 1,000 silver pieces from King Charles III of Spain topped off donations to start the construction of the church.[5] Catholics constructing the original church initially tried to locate it on Broad Street (Manhattan), then in the heart of New York City. Due to anti-Catholic sentiments, however, New York City officials implored them to change the location to a site at Barclay and Church Streets, then outside the city limits. The builders relented and accepted the present location. The cornerstone of the original church was laid in 1785 and the first Mass celebrated in 1786.

Mexican artist Jose Vallejo painted an icon of the Crucifixion,[6] and the archbishop of Mexico City gave it to Saint Peter parish in 1789; it hung above the main altar.[7] On 14 March 1805 at Saint Peter Church, Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton converted from the Episcopal Church to Catholicism. She thereafter often prayed before this painting of the Crucifixion above the main altar . The Catholic Church later canonized her, the first native born United States citizen so honored.

On December 24, 1806, parishioners celebrated the Christmas Eve vigil inside the church building. This Catholic celebration still infuriated some Protestants who viewed it as an exercise in "popish superstition". Protesters tried to disrupt the Mass, and the ensuing melee injured dozens, with one policeman killed.[8]

September 11[edit]

A portion of the landing gear of an airplane struck and damaged the roof of the Saint Peter's Catholic Church building during the September 11 attacks in 2001.[9][10] When debris from the towers killed Father Mychal Judge OFM, chaplain for the New York City Fire Department (the first publicly identified casualty of the attacks), surviving firemen brought him from the towers site to Saint Peter Catholic Church and laid his body before the altar.[10] The parish also served as a staging ground for rescue and recovery operations. "We were the first place they were bringing all the emergency equipment. Everything was in disarray," pastor Father Madigan stated. "Stuff was piled six feet high all over the pews—bandages, gas masks, boots, hoses and cans of food for the workers and the volunteers, many of whom were sleeping in the church on bedrolls."[10] The same also occurred in the downstairs church.[10]

The interior of the church as it appeared in 1914

Authorities also blocked public access to the parish. The church celebrated Masses occasionally only for the rescue workers and those with credentials to enter. On October 28, 2001, authorities lifted martial law in the area. "That was when we officially celebrated our first Mass after September 11," says Father Madigan. The parish quickly cut the number of Masses from that before the attacks "because the number of people coming was way down. Many who had been coming to mass at St. Peter's or St. Joseph's from the World Trade Center, of course, were not around anymore."[10]

The World Trade Center cross temporarily sat on the Church Street side until it was moved to the World Trade Center Memorial.[11][12] A new custom cross was commissioned to stand in place, installed on 11 August 2011.[13]

Real estate valuation[edit]

The property, including the land and the church, had a market value in 2006 of $4,670,000.[14]

Notable parishioners[edit]



  1. ^ White, Norval & Willensky, Elliot (2000). AIA Guide to New York City (4th ed.). New York: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-8129-3107-5. , p. 67
  2. ^ "St. Peter's Church - Barclay Street" on Daytonian in Manhattan (July 2, 2010)
  3. ^ a b Dunlap, David W. From Abyssinian to Zion. (2004) New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12543-7, p.242
  4. ^ New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Postal, Matthew A. (ed. and text); Dolkart, Andrew S. (text). (2009) Guide to New York City Landmarks (4th ed.) New York: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-28963-1, p.25
  5. ^ National Catholic Register: "9/11's Church: St. Peter Catholic Church Has Witnessed Pivotal Points of U.S. History" September 2, 2011
  6. ^
  7. ^ "St Peters Church" on the Kel-Mar Designs website
  8. ^ Vitello, Paul "In Fierce Opposition to a Muslim Center, Echoes of an Old Fight: First Catholic Church in the City Stirred Fear and Suspicion, in 1785," The New York Times, October 8, 2010, p. A19. Found at New York Times website. Accessed October 12, 2010.
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c d e Wintz, Jack. "St. Peter's Parish: Death and Resurrection at Ground Zero", accessed Sept. 2, 2012, American Catholic (ndg)
  11. ^ Konigsberg, Eric. "Brief Journey for an Icon of the Attack on New York", New York Times (October 6, 2006)
  12. ^ "World Trade Center Cross Moves To 9/11 Memorial On Saturday". CBS New York. July 22, 2011. Access: September 12, 2011
  13. ^ Krawczyk, Jon. "Home" Saint Peter 9-11 Cross official blog (August 11, 2011). Accessed September 12, 2011.
  14. ^ Independent valuations
  15. ^ Sontag, Deborah. "Canonizing a Slave: Saint or Uncle Tom?", New York Times (February 23, 1992)

External links[edit]