St. Teresa Church (Manhattan)

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Coordinates: 40°42′48.62″N 73°59′25.74″W / 40.7135056°N 73.9904833°W / 40.7135056; -73.9904833

St. Teresa's Roman Catholic Church
(Rutgers Presbyterian Church)
Theresa RCC Rutgers Street sun jeh crop.jpg
General information
Architectural styleGothic Revival
Town or cityNew York City
CountryUnited States
ClientPresbyterian Church in the United States of America
Technical details
Structural systembrick masonry
St. Teresa's Roman Catholic Church, Manhattan

The Church of St. Teresa is a Roman Catholic parish located at 16-18 Rutgers Street on the corner of Henry Street in the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.[1] The parish is under the authority of the Archdiocese of New York.[2] The church building was constructed in 1841-42 as the Rutgers Presbyterian Church erected in the Gothic Revival style on a plot of ground donated by Colonel Henry Rutgers, and it is said to have oldest public clock in New York City.[3] The church was taken over by St. Teresa's Parish in 1863, only three years after it was founded.[3]

A special feature of the New York Times in 1901 mentioned the church among other Catholic structures in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, describing the group "for the most part...limit[ing] themselves to the functions of a parish church, in districts where social needs are otherwise supplied."[4]

The AIA Guide to New York City describes the church as “An ashlar church in the tradition of the others nearby, which antedate 1850. This one conducts services in three languages: English, Spanish and Chinese.”[5]

Ceiling collapse and renovation[edit]

In 1995 the interior vaulted ceiling of the church collapsed, and 60,000 pounds of plaster fell, breaking through the floor into the basement parish hall. The congregation worshiped for months in a local synagogue, but eventually found the money to repair the floor so that they could worship in the church, albeit in the basement. Because of the great cost of repairing the roof, it was argued that St. Teresa's should be closed. However, the pastor at the time, Father Dennis Sullivan, and his parishioners were determined that St. Teresa's would not close.

After the school had been condemned and closed in 1942, it had been torn down and eventually become a parking lot, used by the church and neighborhood residents. The late 1990s was a time of rising property values, as New York City began to revitalize and the Lower East Side began to gentrify, so the parish raised the money it needed through the sale of the parking lot and the adjacent air rights. Extensive renovation of the church included a new roof, new interior appointments salvaged from what was left from the old, and the restoration of three murals painted in the 1880s, depicting St. Patrick teaching the pagan kings of Ireland, St. Teresa[6] teaching her sisters and the crucifixion of Christ. The church was reopened in the early winter of 2002 and rededicated by Edward Cardinal Egan, the Archbishop of New York, in early 2003.

Father Dennis Sullivan left St. Teresa's in July 2003 and was followed by Father Donald Baker who served as pastor from 2003-2015. Father Jose Serrano as of August 2015 is their current pastor.



  1. ^ The World Almanac 1892 and Book of Facts (New York: Press Publishing, 1892), p.390.
  2. ^ Remigius Lafort, S.T.D., Censor, The Catholic Church in the United States of America: Undertaken to Celebrate the Golden Jubilee of His Holiness, Pope Pius X. Volume 3: The Province of Baltimore and the Province of New York, Section 1: Comprising the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn, Buffalo and Ogdensburg Together with some Supplementary Articles on Religious Communities of Women.. (New York City: The Catholic Editing Company, 1914), p.375.
  3. ^ a b Dunlap, David W. (2004). From Abyssinian to Zion: A Guide to Manhattan's Houses of Worship. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-12543-7., p.246
  4. ^ "Centres of Civilization; On the Lower East Side of New York", New York Times, Jul 21, 1901. Excerpt: “Everybody who read it must have been struck by a remark of Mr. Hewitt's, made not very long ago, touching the tenement house district, which was considerably commented on in the press. The remark was that it was not only the part of humanity and charity for the more favored to assist the less favored, but that in this particular case, it was not less the part of prudence…..St. Nicholas in Second Street, St. Rose of Lima in Cannon Street, and St. Teresa in Henry Street. There is also a remarkable church, remarkable for the ...””
  5. ^ White, Norval and Elliot Willensky, AIA Guide to New York City. Rev. Ed., (New York: Collier Books, 1978.), p.38.
  6. ^ History official site

External links[edit]