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The Church of the Nativity & Landmarking the East Village!

Second Avenue Presbyterian Church, constructed 1831 (image courtesy HABS)

Speaking of the firm Town, Davis & Dakin (which as you’ll recall from yesterday’s post built NYU’s original main building), we recently came across some great shots of the stately Greek Revival church that once stood at 46-48 Second Avenue. According to the Historic American Buildings Survey, the Second Avenue Presbyterian Church was built by the firm in 1831. Town, Davis & Dakin was one of the earliest American architectural partnerships and was responsible for introducing the wildly popular and widely copied Greek Revival distyle-in-antis style of church architecture (meaning, two columns between antae). This was the last church of this style built by the firm and was likely, before it’s demolition, the earliest extant example of the style.

The 1968 Church of the Nativity, designed by Genovese & Maddalene, stands on the site today.

The Church of the Nativity today

Church interior, image courtesy HABS
Church interior, image courtesy HABS
Church interior, image courtesy HABS
Church interior, image courtesy HABS

This is all part of our ongoing research on the history of every single building in the East Village, which we’ll continue to spotlight on Off the Grid. We take requests, so make sure to let us know if there’s a specific building that interests you!

In other East Village news, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) announced this week that it will be considering two potential East Village Historic Districts collectively comprised of over 300 buildings. While we don’t have the details on the exact boundaries, we have been told by the LPC that the southern boundary of one of the districts is around 2nd Avenue & 2nd Street, quite near the Church of the Nativity site. More information will be released after a meeting with owners of property in the proposed district this coming Tuesday night, and there will be a public hearing and discussion on the proposals at a Community Board 3 hearing on May 12th, at which the LPC will be presenting their proposal.  GVSHP will provide more details as they become available.

4 responses to “The Church of the Nativity & Landmarking the East Village!

  1. It may have been the Second Avenue Presbyterian Church when it was built, but it was already the Church of the Nativity when this picture was taken. “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” (For the Greater Glory of God) is a Jesuit phrase, and the Jesuits were the Nativity parish administrators until around 2007. The current modern structure was built during the Jesuit administration of the parish.

  2. In reference to the old Church of the Nativity,44 2nd ave NY,NY, My grandfather, Charles Francis McFadden was christened there in 1870 early 1871 by his parents Patrick C.& Grace Gallagher- McFadden. They were married there also in 1866 my records show. I have a photo of Grandad and mother taken after the christening.
    So sad that first the pipe organd and then the Greek revival ediface was destroyed. It makes one ponder where all of the leaded glass went?

    I enjoyed your article very much.

    Patrick T. McFadden
    Bend, Oregon

  3. My gt grandparents William Kelly & Elizabeth Barclay were married at the Church of the Nativity on Sept. 12, 1869. witness by brother of Elizabeth, William Barclay & Mary Sullivan his wife.

    My grandfather William P. Kelly Jr was baptized at the church on Aug 30, 1873, sponsors were Patrick Trainor and aunt Ellen Barclay.

  4. Would there be any additional photos available of the interior of the original church including the beautiful statues of saints within ,the marble staircase leading into the church the upper balcony etc. The original church was truly a beautiful place of worship. It was my first parish where I served as an alter boy.

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