We continue the Landmarks50 celebration by taking a deeper look at Saint Marks-in-the-Bowery Church at 131 East 10th Street. This landmark represents construction over a considerable period of time. The main body of the church – with fieldstone walls and trimmed round arched windows – is of the late Georgian style. It is also the oldest part of the church, constructed in 1777 by John McComb. The steeple, added in 1828 by Martin Euclid Thomas and Ithiel Towne, is pure Greek Revival, and the cast-iron porch reflects the Italianate tradition of the mid-Nineteenth century. As the designation report states, “What is most remarkable, in the case of this church, is the fact that elements of such diverse periods should harmonize so well, achieving a singularly attractive whole.”
Historically, this structure is one of the most outstanding churches in New York City. It is the oldest site of continuous worship in the City and the second-oldest church building in Manhattan. Peter Stuyvesant purchased the land in 1651 and built a Dutch Reform Chapel on his “Bouwerie” or farm. Stuyvesant’s great grandson rebuilt the chapel as an Episcopal church in 1773. The famed Stuyvesant Vault lies underneath the church, housing the remains of Stuyvesant and his heirs (along with a long list of famed authors, poets, merchants, politicians, lawyers and even a few murders – like John C. Colt, convicted murderer and brother of Samuel Colt – of Colt Revolver fame). Perhaps this is why many believe the church is haunted.
On April 12, 1966, the LPC designated Saint Mark’s-in-the-Bowery Church a landmark. The designation report points to the building’s “special character, special historical and aesthetic interest and value as part of the development, heritage and cultural characteristics of New York City.”
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