Brief Histories of the Churches connected with the Presbytery of New York. Pre: 1949 Part III

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Churches in the Boroughs of Manhattan, Bronx and Richmond. Churches which have been dissolved are so indicated. Churches which have merged with others are to be found under the names of the churches of which they became a part.


Canal Street Church (Dissolved)

The Canal Street Church is an interesting example of the continuation of the influence and work of a devoted people long after its separate organization has ceased. This church, one of the oldest in the city, had an active life for eighty-six years, but then recognized that its members had removed from its old location and it could not advantageously continue, and so it decided to make available for the other churches of the Presbytery the considerable financial assets which it had. These are still held in trust by the Trustees of the Presbytery of New York to meet the financial needs of churches less advantageously situated.

The Canal Street Church was organized as the Irish Church, so named because its members came largely from the North of Ireland. The organization was in 1808, but it was not received into Presbytery until June 28, 1809. Its location was on Orange Street, now Baxter Street, near Grand Street, and in 1822 its name was officially changed to the Orange Street Church. In 1825 it moved to 82 Canal Street, and its official name became the Canal Street Church. Later it built at 17 Greene Street, near Canal. Here it continued until it was dissolved in 1894.

The ministers: John McNeice, 1809-15; Henry Blatchford, 1815-18; John Alburtis, 1819-21; Robert McCarteen, 1821-36; John Anderson, 1839-40; Richard W. Dickinson, 1840-44; Hugh S. Carpenter, 1845-53; David Mitchell, 1867-75; Alexander McKelvey, 1877-82; John H. Magowan, 1883; David G. Wylie, 1884-86; Richard P. Payson, 1886-94.

Central Park-Prospect Hill Church (Dissolved)

In 1887 fifty persons withdrawing from the First Union Church began services as an independent organization in Parepa Hall, Third Avenue and 86th Street. On May 25th they were organized as the Central Park Presbyterian Church. Later they met in a private house on 82nd Street, between Lexington and Park Avenues. The name was changed to the Prospect Hill Church. It was planned to move to the vicinity of Park Avenue and 93rd Street, but the expectation did not materialize, and the church was dissolved in March 1890.

Minister: Robert H. Macready, 1887-90

Chelsea Church (Dissolved)

The first church to bear the name Chelsea was organized October 22, 1843, and a brick house of worship was erected at 353 W. 22nd St. Many of the members came from the recently dissolved Eighth Church. Chelsea was the name given at that time to the whole section of New York west from Sixth Avenue to the North River, and from Fourteenth Street to Thirty-Fourth Street.

This church had a total life of twenty-seven years, being disbanded in 1870. Edward D. Smith, who came from Eighth Church, was minister 1843-68, being succeeded by Morse Rowell, 1868-70.

First Chinese Church

Christian work for the Chinese in New York City was begun as early as 1868 by Rev. Lycurgus Railsback of the Five Points House of Industry. Rev. Arthur Folsom and Miss S.E. Goodrich continued the work, and meetings were held in the Fourth Avenue Church and at 523 Pearl Street. In 1879 the Presbyterian Board of Foreign Missions assumed direction of the enterprise, and the work was moved to 119 White Street.

Various branch Sunday Schools were opened, among them being those of the 14th Street Church, the Spring Street Church and the Seventh Church. In 1885 the Rev. Huie Kin arrived in New York to be a missionary among the Chinese. He took charge of the work, which was then moved to 15 University Place. Several times in the next years it was moved to different locations, 34 Clinton Place, 14 University Place, 53 Fifth Avenue, 26 West 9th Street.

In 1909 a group of interested individuals with the cooperation of the Presbytery secured the building at 225 East 31st Street, which had been a former club house and was admirably adapted for the general work of the Chinese mission. It was possible to arrange dormitory accommodations for many of the young Chinese arriving from their native land.

On December 18, 1910, Presbytery organized the First Chinese Presbyterian Church. Mr. Huie continued his leadership, rounding out forty years of pastorate before he became pastor emeritus in 1925. Rev. K.C. Young has been the pastor since 1928. After Mr. Huie's death, the church voted that its name should be the Huie Kin Memorial Church.

This church has had a very great influence, not only in this country, but in China, as so many of the students and others coming to New York were influenced by this work and have gone back to take positions of leadership in which this Christian spirit has found expression. One of these students, who for some time lived in the mission building, was Sun Yat Sen, the founder of modern China, and tradition states that while he was in his room he and his friends wrote the draft of what has become the Constitution of China.

Christ Church

Christ Church is the outgrowth of two mission enterprises which were inaugurated during the winter of 1857-8 to reach the children and young people on the West Side of New York. Members of the Brick Church were in charge of one at 654 Sixth Avenue, and they were associated with members of the Fifth Avenue Church. Another school was supported by members of the Scotch Church. In 1859 these movements were united in a large hall on the northeast corner of 32nd Street and Broadway. The work grew so that in 1860 three stories of the building at 1285 Broadway, the present site of Macy's store, were secured.

In 1863 the Brick Church assumed specific charge of the enterprise, and three years later instituted plans for the erection of a building for the proper housing of the mission activities. A chapel was erected at 228 West 35th Street. Here tremendous numbers of children and adults crowded the building, and before long additional space was secured for a parish house. On June 6, 1888 the Brick Church issued letters to 346 of its members who worshipped at the chapel, and Presbytery constituted this group the Christ Presbyterian Church.

The work continued to grow, making it necessary to secure larger quarters, and at 336 West 36th Street there were erected and dedicated in 1905 the Christ Church Memorial Buildings, so called in memory of Rev. Malthie D. Babcock. The large institutional plant has developed into a community work of wide extent. For many years this was recognized as the outstanding example of such work in the United States. The generous support of the Brick Church has made possible the maintenance of this strong enterprise.

The affiliated church plan, as it is called, which was established between the Brick Church and Christ church, as well as with the Church of the Covenant, is a most interesting example of the way in which a happy relationship can be worked out between a "mother" church and an enterprise which it has established, a great improvement on the old custom of supporting mission chapels. This relationship provides that the local church shall be independent ecclesiastically, calling its own minister, and with its session carrying on its work. The "mother" church, however, holds the title to the property and provides financial help each year toward the maintenance of the work. The expenditure of this budget is under a joint committee, on which both churches are represented. It is obvious that the success of such a plan depends upon complete confidence and good will between the parties, and Christian grace and courtesy.

From 1916 to 1943 the Brick Church maintained at 330 West 36th Street a home for working girls, known as Barbour House in memory of William D. Barbour, for more than fifty years a teacher in Christ Church and one of the prominent officers in the Brick Church.

The ministers: Joseph J. Lampe, 1867-95; Richard Wightman, 1897-1900; James M. Farr, 1901-10; Theodore F. Savage, 1911-22; Joseph C. MacDonald, 1923-25; Cameron P. Hall, 1926-35; Frank M. Cryderman, 1936-42; John H. Murray, 1942_.

Church of the Covenant

The Church of the Covenant at 310 East 42nd Street, now affiliated with the Brick Church, began as a mission enterprise of the old Church of the Covenant in 1865 before it merged with the Brick Church. The first Sunday School meetings were held over a stable at 206 East 40th Street. In December 1871 the Memorial Chapel at the present site was dedicated. It was called Memorial to recognize the union of the Old School and New School Churches.

This Memorial Chapel, or Covenant Chapel as it was called, had never been regarded by the Brick Church as a mere auxiliary or mission, but rather as a sister church, and in 1893 two hundred and sixty-six members who had been on its rolls were organized as the Church of the Covenant. Here the work has developed on the plan of the affiliated church and the personal and financial backing of the Brick Church has made possible an extensive program.

Beginning in 1915 an Italian Department was established. A very fine and substantial congregation was gathered and continued to be a large part of this work, until in 1938 when Mr. Valenti was called to the pastorate of the Holy Trinity Church, his congregation went with him and merged with that body.

The Ministers: George S. Webster, 1890-1914; Graham C. Hunter, 1914-24; Howard V. Yergin, 1924-36; Rosario Valenti, 1916-38; Donald B. Blackstone, 1936-42; Raymond H. Rosche, 1942_.

Eastchester Church

In June, 1930, a Sunday School and a vacation school were established at 3046 Eastchester Road in the Bronx, under the leadership of Floyd E. McGuire, a seminary student. For a time children from this neighborhood had been transported to the Williamsbridge Sunday School by bus, but the increase in population made it wise to establish the new enterprise.

On June 7, 1931 the Eastchester Presbyterian Church was organized and shortly thereafter it moved to rented quarters at 1343 Gunhill Road.

In 1942 there was completed and dedicated a new church building on Fish Avenue and Gunhill Road. The ministers: Floyd E. McGuire, 1931-40; Richmond A Fewlass, 1940_.

East Harlem Church (Dissolved)

The Presbytery of New York on October 24th, 1887 received the East Harlem Presbyterian Church. This body had had a history of twenty-three years as the First United Presbyterian Church of Harlem, and had erected a house of worship at 233 East 116th Street. At  their request they were received into the Presbyterian body, and the Trustees of Presbytery purchased the building. This was rebuilt in 1891, completed in 1900.

With the organization of the American Parish, in 1911, this church became a part of that federation of Presbyterian work on the upper East Side. Shortly before this, an Italian Department had been opened in the East Harlem Church under the leadership of John Tron, succeeded by Giovanni Ongaro and Frank J. Panetta. Later the First Magyar Church moved its services to this building. In 1924 Presbytery dissolved the East Harlem Church and gave the building over to the First Magyar Church for its exclusive use, the Italian congregation having been merged with the Church of the Ascension.

The ministers: Charles E. Herring, 1887-91; James G. Patterson, 1892-98; Charles H. Scholey, 1901-1906; Charles A. Evans, 1907-10: Norman Thomas, 1911-18; Howard V. Yergin, 1919-24.

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Website: The History
Article Name: Brief Histories of the Churches connected with the Presbytery of New York. Pre: 1949 Part III
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: From my collection of books: The Presbyterian Church in New York City by Theodore Fiske Savage; published by The Presbytery of New York 1949
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