Tuesday, March 26, 2019

High Church - North Shore Episcopalian Churches Pt. 3

Just one church today. The old photos are dark so I decided to include newer shots to accompany each one.

St. Mary's Episcopal Church
On the corner of Castleton and Davis Avenues in West New Brighton, this beautiful little church shares its grounds with a parsonage and garage. Surrounded by medical offices, lawyers, and slightly rundown houses, it looks a little out of place these days. The parish was founded in 1848 and the present building is from 1905. 

Thursday, March 07, 2019

High Church - North Shore Episcopalian Churches Pt. 2

Here's another installment of Episcopalian churches.

Situated on a large, tree-filled corner of New Brighton (specifically Hamilton Park), Christ Church is a large, Gothic-style building. According to Wikipedia, it was built in 1904. The large attached parish hall was built in 1879 and remodeled in 1909. I don't have a date for the rectory, seen on the far left of the bottom picture, however.

I don't have any interior pictures of the church and that's a shame. I've was in the sanctuary once and it can only be described as beautiful. As someone who grew up very high Lutheran, my tastes definitely run toward the more elaborate and ornate. I get the theology behind a stripped down church but I definitely prefer something like Christ Church.

Christ Church - Franklin Avenue

I grew up attending Trinity Lutheran Church, just up the block from St. Paul's, but I've never been in it or known anybody who attended there. From the pictures on their website, it's another beautiful house of worship. 

The present building was constructed in 1866 to replace the older, wooden one that was across the street a block or so away.

Original St. Paul's Memorial Church - St. Paul's Avenue - date unknown

Map of St. Paul's Avenue - 1874

St. Paul's Memorial Church - St. Paul's Avenue - 1939/1940

St. Paul's - 2013

St. Paul's Parsonage - St. Paul's Avenue - 1939/1940

St. Paul's Parsonage - 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2019

High Church - North Shore Episcopalian Churches Pt. 1

The Episcopalian Churches: Part 1

Once upon a time, the Episcopalian Church was the denomination of America's elite. Eleven of our forty five presidents were Episcopalians. Today, with under 2 million members, it's a dwindling church, like most mainline Protestant churches. The whys and wherefores of that are a conversation for a place other than this site.

What matters here are the gorgeous houses of worship raised by the Episcopalian Church. Once upon a time, when it was wealthy and filled with people willing to dedicate that wealth to such construction, it raised some of the most beautiful buildings to ever grace Staten Island, something for which we should all be grateful.

So, let's start with one of the lost churches of the Island. They're not really lost, but instead moved or destroyed.

Church of the Ascension

Built as an offshoot of Trinity Church in Manhattan, the Church of the Ascension was established 1802 on a small hill overlooking the Kill Van Kull. Situated on Richmond Terrace between Alaska Street and Tompkins Court, in the 1920s area industrialized, and the congregation decided to move the building to Kingsley Avenue near Clove Lakes. The 1929 Crash made this impossible, and the original church was left behind. You can see a FOR SALE sign in the picture below (1939 or 1940).

Church of the Ascension Parsonage - Richmond Terrace and Van Street
Church of the Ascension, sans steeple top - Richmond Terrace

from the church's own website - priest and congregation

Church of the Ascension in all its steepled-glory - 1930

The present Church of the Ascension is a small, brick building tucked away in a lovely section of Castleton Corners.

This church began as a Sunday school (for adults), in 1889. It gradually evolved into a full church and moved around to various locations in Mariners Harbor before buying a plot of land on the corner of Richmond Terrace and Van Name Avenue. In 1909, they acquired the Floating Church of Our Saviour, previously operated by the Seamen's Institute out in New York harbor. Go to this page to see a series of pictures of building at sea and on land.

It was docked at the foot of Van Name and in 1914 was moved to solid ground. In 1959, it burned down. The congregation, its cost not fully covered by insurance, bought new property on Wooley Avenue and Victory Boulevard and built the present church.

Floating Church of Our Saviour on its way to becoming All Saints' Church

All Saints' Church - Richmond Terrace and Van Name Street - 1939/1940

All Saints' Church - present - Victory Boulevard

Thursday, July 05, 2018

The Methodist Churches: Part 2

Here's the second installment of North Shore Staten Island Methodist churches. Since the previous posting, I've already learned significant new information regarding these and the previously posted churches. I've also successfully contacted the archivist for this region of United Methodist church and been directed to several major sources of information. As usual, the SI Advance has also been a good source of information. I so wish they would digitize their entire print run. There's so much valuable information in the pages of our local paper but it's difficult to extract. Maybe one day.

Dickinson Methodist Church
Dickinson Methodist started as a chapel on the property originally owned by the Decker family. When the land was sold for the construction of P.S. 3, the congregation set out to build a new house of worship. They held services in the school house for a few years, but eventually moved to a building constructed on Victory Boulevard in 1871. According to A.Y. Hubbell's History of Methodism and the Methodist Churches of Staten Island, the original chapel was sold to a Lutheran congregation.

According to this SI Advance article, Dickinson Methodist closed down and its congregation merged with Christ United Methodist in Graniteville in 1974. Today the building is owned by the non-denominational Staten Island Christian Church.

Graniteville Methodist Church
Graniteville Methodist was founded in 1910 and in 1914 they bought this building on Willowbrook Road. According to Leng and Davis it had originally been a Baptist church. I don't have much information about it at this point other than it closed in 1958 and merged with Holy Trinity Methodist Church on Forest Avenue. The combined congregations were first called Holy Trinity Graniteville Methodist Church, but in 1960 took the name Christ Methodist Church. Today it's called Christ United Methodist Church.

The most important thing I've learned in the past week regarding the North Shore's Methodist churches is the origin of Christ United. I put up pictures of the Italian Mission church on Harbor Road and theorized it faded away and its member shifted to Summerfield, also on Harbor Road.

The truth is very different. According to this article in the Advance, the Italian Mission was founded in 1919 by the Rev. Sante Buzzalini. In 1932 the church shown above was built from diabase rock taken from the quarry right next door (now Graniteville Quarry Park) on Forest Avenue.

west facing and north facing sides of the steeple

Again, drawing on Leng and Davis, I learned that the congregation that built this church was originally called the North Shore Free Methodist Episcopal Church. It was organized in 1867 and built their church on this location. In 1895 it caught fire and a new church had to be built - this one.

In 1966, Methodism, facing a bit of a crisis on the North Shore, handled it by merging Kingsley, Trinity, and Grace churches. The new unified church was called Faith United. A good description of how this was done can be read here on the church's website.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Methodist Churches: Part 1

I've written before about what I call "the Great Collapse" of the Methodist denomination of the late sixties and early seventies. Several churches, some of them with quite long histories, closed and consolidated with other congregations. I put it down to changing demographics. The Wasp middle-class Islanders who attended these churches were fleeing to New Jersey and other distant regions. I've tried reaching out the archivist for the Methodist church, but with no luck so far. I'm going to have to give it another try if I'm going to get a better understanding of just what happened all those years ago. 

Asbury Methodist Church - Richmond Avenue

In 1771, at the age of 26, Francis Asbury volunteered to bring Methodist teachings to America. He preached his first sermon in the colonies at the Methodist congregation in Woodrow, Staten Island. Eventually he became the leader of the Methodist church in America. On a regular basis, he preached on Staten Island, for over forty years. Asbury Methodist Church was founded in 1804. The present building, now home to SonRise Faith Church, was built in 1849. It has seen several major renovations over its 160+ years. Originally, it didn't have a bell tower, for example. The Advance did a short piece on it a few years back you can read here.

According to Leng and Davis, Asbury Church was founded in 1802. For decades it was the only Methodist church on the North Shore. I don't know what year Asbury disbanded and I don't know specifically which, if any, congregation it merged with. As the project progresses I'll, I hope, find out.

Italian Methodist Mission - Harbor Road

I don't know anything about this, other than mission churches to immigrant groups were standard for mainline denominations back in the day. Olivet Presbyterian started life as an Italian mission established by Calvary Presbyterian and I've written about the Italian Episcopalian church on Jewett Avenue. I'd guess that at some point the church closed and any remaining Italian congregants joined Summerfield Methodist Church just a few blocks up Harbor towards the Terrace. Today, it's part of Pentecostal Tabernacle

Summerfield Methodist Church - Harbor Road
Summerfield was founded in 1839 so the Methodists of Mariner's Harbor didn't have to travel all the way to New Springville anymore. This building went up in 1869. Of all today's churches, it's the only one still a Methodist church.

Kingsley Methodist Church - Cebra Avenue

Incorporated originally as the Tompkinsville Methodist Church, this building was built in 1855. Enlarged in 1870, it became known as Kingsley Methodist. It closed in 1967. Since then it has been a private residence, a non-denominational church, and a Mormon center.

Trinity Methodist Church - Delafield Avenue
The roots of the congregation of Trinity Methodist Church went back to 1837. This beautiful church was built in 1912 after the previous building, erected in 1869, burnt down in 1909. The Methodist congregation, once huge, was disbanded in 1970, its members joining other congregations. For the next 35 years it housed Congregation Agudath Achim Anshe Chesed, which had previously been located on Jersey Street.
Sadly, this building was lost to fire in November, 2015. The Advance, once again, has a good article on the church and its history.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

And Yet More North Shore Churches: Baptists

Here you go, a third round of churches. This is where things start to get a lot more confusing. Most of the older Baptist churches on the North Shore have moved from their original locations and consolidated with other congregations.

St. Phillip's  (Amer) - Bennett Street. Originally on Faber Street. St. Philip's original building was eventually used by Mar Thoma Church Staten Island and has been replaced with a new building.
Willowbrook Park (cons) - Richmond Avenue. Merged in 1960s from First and Mariner's Harbor churches
First Central Baptist (Amer) founded in 1978, uses Temple Tifireth building on Wright Street.
Fellowship Baptist (Amer) - founded in 1966, uses Mariner's Harbor Dutch Reformed Church on Richmond Terrace (show in previous post)
Mariner's Harbor - closed and merged, originally on Union Avenue. Building now used by Staten Island Seventh Day Adventist Church
First Baptist - closed and merged, originally on Hamilton Avenue. Building now used by Glorious Church of God in Christ
Park Baptist Church - defunct. Building now used by St. Mary's Orthodox Church

    old Zion Lutheran on Bennett Street                                 St. Philip's Baptist on Bennett today              

original St. Philip's Baptist building on Faber Street (c.1889)

First Baptist building on Hamilton and Westervelt (c.1898)

Friday, April 20, 2018

More Listings by Denomination: Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Reformed, African Methodist Episcopal, and Union American Methodist Episcopal

Thank you, everybody, who dropped by the other day and pointed out churches I left out. As that was so helpful, I'm going to put up more right now. If you see any omissions, please, tell me and I'll correct it.


Christ Church  - Franklin Avenue

St. Paul's - St. Paul's Avenue
Church of the Ascension - Kingsley Avenue
St. John's - Bay Street
St. Mary's  - Davis Avenue
All-Saints - Victory Blvd.
Italian Mission - disbanded and demolished, Jewett Avenue
Norwegian Mission - disbanded, Albion Place

Calvary Presbyterian Church
Olivet - Myrtle Avenue, originally a chapel on West Street
Calvary  - Davis Avenue
First  - disbanded, Brownell Street, now used by the Temple of Restoration

Dutch Reformed
Brighton Heights - St. Mark's Place, original building burned down
Reformed Church on Staten Island - Port Richmond Avenue
Mariner's Harbor - disbanded, now used by Fellowship Baptist

Stapleton UAME Church
African Methodist Episcopal
Shiloh AME Zion - Henderson Avenue

Union American Methodist Episcopal
Stapleton UAME - Tompkins Avenue