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

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

North Shore House of Worship Project

Kingsley Methodist and parsonage
My original impetus for blogging about the North Shore of Staten Island was to complete something I called "the Church Project." Fascinated by the rise and fall of communities, the changing demographics of Staten Island over the last century or two, and the persistence of congregations despite surrounding changes, I planned to investigate and chronicle the history of the churches of the Island's North Shore. Where it occurred, I'd look into how buildings transferred from one denomination to another in the light, most often, of demographic changes. 

Kingsley buildings today
As some of the oldest churches are destroyed (i.e. Brighton Heights Reformed and Trinity Methodist), it is also important to document the churches as tangible things, as works of spiritually-inspired art and architecture. I wanted to get as many pictures of as many buildings as possible, particularly the lost ones.

I made a list of all the main worship buildings, past and present, I could think of or document. I put stickers on a map to get some sort of impression of where old ethnic or religious communities were located. I even reached out to one Episcopal church for information (they never got back to me). It was clear it was going to be a difficult undertaking, so when other elements of Staten Island history caught my eye I let the Church Project drop.

St. John's Lutheran
Now, I've been doing this site for about a decade. It's had it good and bad times, but my time at the CSI SI Archives for the last three years has been exactly what I needed to keep me revved up and excited about this site. So excited it turns out, I'm going to attempt to carry out the Church Project.

I'm going to start small. I'll start with one denomination at a time and see how it goes. I'm debating whether to do the Dutch Reformed Church or the Methodist Church first. The former is smaller, with fewer congregations, and its main archives are only in New Brunswick. It's also the church my dad grew up in.

The Methodist Church was bigger on Staten Island, at least through the sixties, and more intriguing. Something happened about fifty years ago and numerous congregations closed and merged with others. From seven churches it shrank to the three that exist today: Faith United, Christ United, and Summerfield, all concentrated in the NW corner of the Island. I'd love to learn what precipitated such a drastic change. The Methodist investigation, though, might be much tougher, so I'm still deciding.

St. John's today
I'm writing about this because I want your help. If you have any information about the archives or histories of any North Shore churches or synagogues, please let me know. I'm especially interested in buildings that have been permanently closed or destroyed. I want pictures, any pictures, but I also want documents discussing the conversations the congregants were having as believers and as members of an organization. I want to know what they were doing for mutual self-help and for their communities. Did community extend beyond fellow worshippers or out into the streets and homes beyond? At this early stage, any help will be greatly appreciated. At the very least, it will help me start focusing on exactly how I want this project to proceed.

For my purposes, the North Shore includes everything north of Victory Blvd. and the Expressway. I'm including the churches along Richmond Avenue opposite Willowbrook Park because several of them figure directly into the history of others further north. 

Lutheran Churches
Trinity - St. Paul's Ave. and Beach Street
Our Savior - Bard and Forest Avenues (originally Nicholas Ave.)
St. Paul/St. Luke  - Decker and Catherine (originally Wasa Lutheran)
St. Paul  - Cary Avenue - defunct, merged with Wasa
Zion - Watchogue Rd - originally Park Ave and before that Avenue B
Immanuel - Richmond Avenue
German Church - York Avenue - split from Trinity and closed ca. 1930
St. John's - Jewett and Post - LCMS
Bethany - Westcott - Lutheran Brethren
St. Olaf's - defunct, bottom of Hendricks - I don't know if this was actually Lutheran, but as it was Norwegian it's possible.

Methodist Churches
Faith United - Heberton and Castleton Avenues
Christ United - Forest Avenue in Graniteville
Summerfield - Harbor Road
Asbury - Richmond Road - defunct, presently SonRise Faith Church
Willowbrook Road (I don't even know the name of this church, or now that I think about it, that it was even Methodist. Maybe it's something I read once) - defunct, presently occupied by Iglesia Pentecostal Rehoboth
Kingsley - foot of Cebra Avenue, defunct
Trinity - defunct, Delafield and Elizabeth - burned down recently
Italian Mission - disbanded, Harbor Road

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Jersey Street Projects Project: Part Seven - west side of Jersey Street between Crescent Avenue and Cleveland Street

This is my favorite stretch of recreated Jersey Street I've done to date. The reason is the looming presence of St. Stanislaus looking down from York Avenue in many of the shots. Today, blocked by the line of trees and brush that fills the lots these buildings once occupied, the church is barely visible from Jersey Street level. Once, though, it was a major element of the local skyline and a reminded of the Church as part of everyday life.


When I first copied and pieced together this shot I wasn't completely sure it was the right one. As you can see, it isn't labeled like the rest. I don't know why, but many of the photos are in a general sort of catch-all file. There's a code on the master list telling which picture is supposed to be which, but still, this didn't look right. I had collected this shot first so I didn't recognize the structure in the upper right corner for what it is, St. Stanislaus.

It seems funny to find detached homes in what seems like such a urban area as Jersey Street, but I think I understand what was going on. I think Jersey Street was originally lined with such buildings on decent-sized lots. As the years went on and the development accelerated, several would be torn down and replaced with the multi-story mixed residential and commercial buildings featured in most of these pictures. This particular house appears on the 1874 map.

1917 street map

         1924 aerial map           present day street map    present day aerial map

Regular readers have read me gripe about what I consider the heartlessness of the city planners who ripped down neighborhoods like this part of New Brighton in order to replace it with overcrowded housing projects in the name of urban renewal. I believe this shot, better than many others I've presented, prove my case. All those buildings above were destroyed sixty years ago and since then all that's there is a garbage-strewned and fenced off lot. It's both ugly and cut off from public access. What was the point of that? I'd be surprised to hear a good one suggested.

Jersey Street - winter 2013

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

West Brighton Projects Project Part 7: southwest corner of Market and Richmond

Quick addition to the ongoing recreation of the neighborhood demolished to clear way for the construction of the West Brighton Houses. I still need to get a few more house pictures to show the rest of the block, but I've got these, so why not just put them up?

Unlike some of the other blocks, this appears to be all residential. It's the usual Staten Island mix of wooden and stucco buildings, some 
single-family, others multi-. I still cannot believe that once upon a time there were urban planners who believed massive towers packed with people and devastated commercial centers was an improvement for the lives of the poor and working class.

1917 Map

1924 Aerial Map

2012 Aerial Map

Thursday, February 15, 2018

West Brighton Projects Project Part 6: West side of Broadway, between West Union and Henderson

I remembered that I hadn't finished recreating the neighborhood wiped out to build the West Brighton Houses. Some of it's because I've had a little trouble pulling all the pictures together. In others, like with today's post, it's because I've forgotten to do it. So, without further ado, Broadway between the no-longer-extant West Union Street and Henderson Avenue.

As usual, I'm somewhat fascinated by the closeness of significant commercial buildings to actual houses. Modern building doesn't seem to do this in any way. I guess the goal of suburban development is to keep the two at more of an arm's length, save for the deli or drycleaner you can walk to. It's also, obviously, a result of carcentric planning. Cars allow you to build the something like the old Penney's Plaza on Forest and Barrett and assume the people from West New Brighton will go there. They don't need a major shopping and dining area outside their door. I'm surprised no one seems to be suggesting this sort of old fashioned building as an antidote to heavy traffic. I would much rather walk to a store than have to take the bus or ride a bike any day of the week. Is this sort of pedestrian friendly development even allowed anymore? Seriously, does anyone know?

1917 Map

NYC 1924 Aerial Map

2012 Google Maps

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Jersey Street Projects Project: Part Six - east side of Henry Street

Recently, I've become interested in the infamous tenement collapse on New Street in the summer of 1937. This New Street wasn't the one in Port Richmond, instead it was a little dead end street off of Jersey Street roughly where the entrance to 81 Jersey Street is today. It was a horrible disaster, killing 19 people, and I'll write more about it in the future.

Right now, I'm putting together pictures of the buildings that were down in the valley between Jersey Street and Westervelt Avenue. New Street, Henry Street, and James Street, all no longer in existence, were situated below the level of Jersey Street. That was part of the reason the tenement collapsed, their basements having filled up with over ten feet of water during a torrential downpour.

Henry Street ran north from Cleveland Street to James Street, behind 131 and 151 Jersey Street. Between the maps and the photos are 23 years. In that time, several of these buildings were constructed and several more vanished - whether from demolition or fire, I have no way of telling. There's a little more of a ramshackle quality to a few of these buildings than the vanished streets of Stapleton and West New Brighton. As I've written before, I think it's due to the greater age of the neighborhood, but I'm only guessing.

this building is actually 51-61