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Guide to the St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery Records
1796-2019
 MS 443.9

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
(212) 873-3400


New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Larry Weimer

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on July 30, 2021
Finding aid written in English using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Biographical / Historical

St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery is an Episcopalian church located on East 10th Street on the Lower East Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City. The church is recognized as the oldest site of continuous religious worship in Manhattan, with the location dating back to the site of a chapel built in 1660 by colonial governor Peter Stuyvesant (1612-1672), who is buried in a vault at the church. In 1793, the original chapel was sold to Trinity Church, which initiated construction of a new church building. This fieldstone building was consecrated in 1799 and, with subsequent expansions, still exists today. Also in 1799, St. Mark's Parish was formed, spinning off from Trinity Parish.

Various changes were made to the church building through the 19th century, including the addition of the spire in 1828. Burial vaults were constructed in the yards on either side of the church. The church was designated a New York City landmark in 1966. Rectories were also built, with the third and final one on East 11th Street designed by Ernest O. Flagg and completed in 1900. The reach of the parish also expanded in the 19th century as mission chapels were established at other points in the city, including uptown on 44th Street (later to move to 48th Street and become the center of its own parish) and on East 10th Street and Avenue A (now the St. Nicholas of Myra Orthodox Church).

When the church was founded in 1799, its location was still a rural area on the fringe of the most populous part of New York City. But as the city expanded north, St. Mark's found itself located in what came to be known as the Lower East Side, a dense urban area that underwent many cultural and demographic shifts over the course of a century and more. By the late 1960s, as part of its effort to navigate these changes, St. Mark's established the Preservation Youth Project (PYP), a program aimed at engaging with youth from the community, specifically in terms of construction jobs training as applied to restoration work in the churchyards and then the church building itself. Devastating fires of the church in 1978 and of the rectory in 1988 set these restoration efforts back, though they were ultimately successful. (See the historical note at Series IV of this collection for elaboration on the restoration projects.) Celebrating its rich history and Dutch connections through Peter Stuyvesant, as well as its re-emergence from the 1978 fire, the church welcomed Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands as a visitor in 1982. Reflecting the church's intent to more broadly serve the surrounding community, the restored rectory was repurposed as the Neighborhood Preservation Center available, in part, for community workshops, meetings, and workspaces.

(The above note was based on various on-line sources, including the websites of St. Marks' Church and the New York Preservation Archive, as well as documents in the collection.)