Monday, January 09, 2023

Lost Small Churches of the North Shore: Italian Pentecostal Church, Pike Street

Italian Pentecostal Church, Pike Street - ca.1940

 Here's another church that was not lost, but transformed. Founded as a prayer meeting in 1923, the Italian Pentecostal Church was eventually located on Pike Street. In 1964, it moved to Richmond Road where it's still to be found, now named the Christian Pentecostal Church. According to its website, it's the oldest Pentecostal church on Staten Island. 

They also had a show on WPOW, 1300, Staten Island's first radio station.

St Paul Apostolic Faith Church, Pike Street - 2012

The first time I even knew Italian Pentecostalism was a thing was when my wife's old pastor, a Baptist, mentioned it was how he'd grown up. Here's an interesting article about Massimilano Tosseto, one of, if not the founder, of Italian Pentecostalism.

Insurance Map, 1936

Monday, October 31, 2022

Lost Small Churches of the North Shore: Italian Methodist Mission Chapel, Harbor Road


181 Harbor Road - Italian Mission Church, ca. 1940

This church is not so much lost as it was relocated and transformed. In 1919, Rev. Dr. Sante Buzzalini began preaching in Mariners Harbor, particularly to the Italian immigrants. He served out of Summerfield Methodist Church on Harbor Road. The goal was to found an English-language Italian congregation.

In 1922, after several years of meeting in Summerfield and open-air preaching, Rev. Buzzalini was granted permission to acquire a portable chapel. It was put in place at 181 Harbor Road where it still stands today. It is no longer a Methodist chapel, however.

181 Harbor Road, 2019

In 1939, following tremendous growth, the decision was made to build a more permanent building for the Italian congregation. A second chapel had been established by Rev. Buzzalini in nearby Bullshead that was to be combined with the Harbor Road chapel, so a central location on Forest Avenue was chosen. In 1939, Holy Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church opened. To quote the church's history page:
The church was built directly on the bedrock which gives Graniteville its name, and made of blocks from the quarry which was only a few hundred yards away.
During the great Methodist shakeout of the late sixties and early seventies, Trinity Methodist went through several changes. In 1959, Holy Trinity merged with Graniteville Methodist, and in 1960 the name was changed to Christ Methodist Church. In 1972, Asbury Methodist and Dickenson Methodist merged. This new congregation merged with Christ United Methodist (the United had been added in 1972 to reflect a merger between larger Methodist church bodies) in 1974, retaining the Christ United name. 

The old Harbor Road chapel has been a Pentecostal congregation of one sort or another since at least the forties. According to a commenter several years ago, it was a Pentecostal congregation from the moment the Rev. Buzzalini moved out. Originally, it appears to have served as the Refugee Church of Christ. In 1947, the building and the present sanctuary at 183 Harbor Road, were purchased by the United Pentecostal Church. Today it's called Pentecostal Tabernacle Church, a congregation of the United Pentecostal Church, a oneness denomination. 

Christ United Methodist Church, 1890 Forest Avenue - 2022

Friday, October 21, 2022

Lost Small Churches of the North Shore: Italian Presbyterian, aka Our Saviour


194 St. Marys Ave. - Our Saviour, aka Italian Presbyterian Church, ca. 1940

Here's an addendum to the previous post about Olivet Presbyterian Church in West New Brighton. A commenter on Facebook mentioned the founding pastor of Olivet, Joseph DeRogatis, was her uncle and that he'd also had an Italian mission church in Rosebank. It's mentioned on Olivet's website, but neither the site nor the commenter knew where it had been. She did know her uncle lived on Chestnut. That was more than enough to point me to the correct map.

For those not aware, as late as the nineties, Rosebank was an intensely Italian neighborhood going back over a century. Giuseppe Garibaldi lived on Staten Island for a short period around 1850. The cottage he lived in serves as the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum today.

SI Advance May 28, 1955 

I have no idea when Our Saviour closed. By the time of the 1980s tax photos, the location was an empty overgrown lot. Searching back issues of the SI Advance didn't provide an answer, either. So, if you know anything, please let me know.

194 St Marys Avenue - 2018

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Lost Small Churches of the North Shore: Calvary Chapel, aka Olivet Presbyterian Church

Calvary Chapel, ca.1940

   There were numerous immigrant Protestant outreach chapels across Staten Island back at the beginning of the 20th century (more on some of them later). The most numerous I've come across were the ministries aimed at Italians. The Methodists had a chapel in Mariner's Harbor, the Espicopalians had one in Port Richmond, and the Presbyterians had two I'm aware of; one in Rosebank and another in West New Brighton.

   It was founded as Calvary Chapel, an outreach of Calvary Church (still there on Bement and Castleton). In 1913, Joseph De Rogatis, aided by his wife Emma, started preaching in West New Brighton. By 1917, there were enough congregants to warrant building a chapel on West Street between Castelton and Cary Avenues.

   By the thirties, the church had grown so much that they built an education wing with a WPA grant. In 1946 they became a completely separate congregation and adopted the name they still bear; Olivet Presbyterian Church. According to a 1950 Advance article, adult services in English weren't started until 1948. In the mid-fifties, they began building the current church on Broadway and Myrtle. The old West Street chapel was replaced by the currently abandoned Whitney Young Day Care Center. 

   The church maintains a detailed history on its website.

1937 Insurance Map showing "Calvary Chapel Italian Presbyterian Church"

Olivet Presbyterian Church in all its modernist 1960's Protestant glory - pic. 2019

Thursday, September 01, 2022

Lost Small Churches of the North Shore: the Hoyt Avenue Church


Immanuel Congregational Church of Staten Island, aka the Hoyt Avenue Church

   The idea for these posts came while doing a little research with the 1936 insurance maps of the North Shore and I saw that this church once existed, only a few blocks from my house. I had never heard of it. Coupled with a few other small churches long lost to history, I hope to make several of these posts over the next week or two.

   According to an article in the Advance, the church started as two separate groups: a house church composed of 14 Swedes that met in a mission house on Westervelt Avenue and an adult Sunday school that met in the old Masonic hall in Port Richmond. In 1917 the two groups merged as the Swedish Immanuel Church of Staten Island. It was affiliated with the Swedish Covenant Church, an evangelical church. Later it was renamed the Immanuel Congregational Church of Staten Island. Finally, to avoid confusing it with other churches named Immanuel, it became known simply as the Hoyt Avenue Church.

   In 1974, just before a series of renovations were to take place, a fire broke out during a wedding rehearsal. The fire spread and all the windows were destroyed and the roof collapsed. The congregation eventually voted to disband. Later, the property was sold and houses were built in the church's place.

   Here's the church's 60th-anniversary bulletin. Clicking on the link below will let you read the entire contents. It's a great snapshot of mid-fifties church life; the hymns, the exciting dinner of turkey, mashed potatoes, and frozen peas, and the speeches. It's also a nice reminder of a time when packs of wild Scandinavians roamed freely on the North Shore.

Hoyt and Delafield - 2012

Monday, July 11, 2022

Lost Apartments of the North Shore: Richmond Terrace at Bank Street (east side)


Letting loose the lunatics wasn't the greatest of ideas
Giving them plans and money to squander
Should have been the worst of our fears

                                                    Paul Weller, "The Planner's Dreams Goes Wrong" 

In my cataloguing of the devastation caused by the construction of the various NYC housing projects on the North Shore, I was constantly puzzled by the elimination of several blocks of buildings along Richmond Terrace. Only with recently being told where I can find archives copies of the SI Advance (1945-2018), have I discovered what happened.

In addition to building the Richmond Terrace Houses, the city planners decided they were going to continue the promenade and multi-lane Richmond Terrace divided by a median from Westervelt Avenue all the way down to Lafayette Avenue. To accommodate the plan, several blocks of existing buildings were purchased and demolished. 

Whelp, like so many well-intentioned plans, this one never came to fruition. Oh, sure, they bought and bulldozed the buildings, but they never built the expanded Terrace or extended the promenade. To be fair, I don't love the original idea, but right now, the narrow stretch of the Terrace in front of the projects is one of the worst bottlenecks on the North Shore. So, businesses and lives were uprooted for an expensive plan that was never implemented. Good going, people. 

For these lost apartment posts I wouldn't normally include pictures of so many individual buildings, but the sheer number of them seemed to warrant it. I want to make clear the extent of the destruction wrought for no ultimate yield.


Sanborn Map, 1936



SI Advance, March 23, 1963   

Chen Hing Hand Laundry

Thomas V. Barry: Real Estate-Insurance & Libasci Bros. Tonsorial


Unknown & Valet Service



Vacant - Demolished in 1946 after being vacant 20 years

Pan-American Bar & Grill


Cigar/Candy Store

Tailor & Bar & Grill & S.I.R.T.R.R. Station


Barber Shop

Laundry & other assorted businesses


Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Lost Apartments of the North Shore: Prospect and York


238 York Avenue, ca.1940


234 York Avenue, ca. 1940

230 York Avenue, ca. 1940


I'm not sure I ever noticed this strange building until I bought a house on Prospect Avenue in 2006. After that, I drove by it all the time, curious about its odd look and hoping someone one would fix it up at least a little bit. Around 2010-2011, someone did do a major renovation. The work wasn't fantastic, and the roof over landing isn't attractive, but a building was returned to use. The DOITT map lists 238 York Avenue as being built in 1931, but it appears to be on the 1917 insurance map. Either way, it's a fairly old building that's still standing and occupied today.


Scanning the Advance archives, I wasn't able to determine when the two units to the right of the remaining 238 York Avenue, were destroyed. However, the last article referencing the center unit, 234 York, was in 1974 when for the second time in a year one of its tenants was robbed. The last reference to the rightmost building, 230 York, was in 1975 when one its tenants was sentenced to nine months for burglary. For at least a decade preceding 1975, all three units had tenants who had habitual contact with the police.

238 York Avenue, 1989 

The yellow street signs were gone by the time I moved to the area, but this was essentially how the building looked in 2006.

Sanborn Map, amended 1935

238 York Avenue - 2018