Village Preservation’s offices are located next to the East Village’s wonderful “Little Ukraine” neighborhood. One of the most eye-catching Ukrainian institutions in our neighborhood is just a few doors down from our home in the rectory of St. Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery: All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church at 206-208 East 11th Street. The parish grew out of the Ukrainian Autocephalic Orthodox Church of St. Volodymyr, established in 1926 at the former First German Baptist Church at 334 East 14th Street (now Town & Village Synagogue), a building designed by Julius Boekell in 1866 and designated a New York City Landmark in 2014 (with a little help from Village Preservation).
For over 30 years, congregants worked tirelessly at the 14th Street location to expand the church both spiritually and materially. According to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission Designation Report, St. Volodymyr’s was an extremely significant site in the history of Ukrainian American immigrants and the Ukrainian Orthodox Church:
“Located in the heart of the Ukrainian community in the largest city in the country, St. Volodymyr’s was one of the most important Ukrainian Orthodox churches in North America and the site of some the most significant events in Ukrainian Orthodox church history, including the installation of Joseph A. Zuk as Bishop of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America in 1932 and the unification of the Autocephalic Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the United States of America and Ukrainian Orthodox Church in America in 1950. In 1939-40 the church was refurbished and altered to give it a more Eastern appearance. The original windows were replaced by stained-glass lights and the original spires were modified to create small chambers topped by copper-clad onion domes. A larger copper-clad dome was also installed behind the front gable.”
On March 22, 1958, St. Volodymyr church committee members elected to sell the 14th Street church in favor of a new sanctuary on the Upper West Side at 160 West 82nd Street, where the church remains in operation today. A great many parishioners, church leaders, and founders of the congregation were displeased with this decision, as there was not a significant Ukrainian population on the Upper West Side. These church members elected to leave this parish and start a new congregation in the old neighborhood following the last liturgy at 334 East 14th Street in January 1962. The church members who elected to remain in the East Village were kindly offered a place to worship at the Swedish Lutheran Church until they could locate a new building. After some time, the fledgling parish purchased their current building, the former Magyar Protestant Church at 206-208 East 11th Street, originally built as the Welsh Congregational church, down the block from our offices, where they remain today. The founding Church Committee of All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church of New York included V. Kudla, A. Tresh, M. Yewush, I.Makarick, I. Lapchak, I. Horodecky, P. Hryhorovich, A. Marko, M. Sosnysky, M. Sobchak, S. Charnecky, P. Stasiuk, G. Yarosh, Hammer, Brigidir.
Built in 1851-1852, the church building at 206-208 East 11th Street originally housed the Welsh Congregational Church, which operated out of this location until 1944 when the building was sold to the Free Magyar Reformed Church of New York for a Hungarian congregation. After a brief stint as an off-Broadway theatre between 1960 and 1962, the building returned to religious use with the arrival of the All Saints congregation.
Since the 1st Divine Liturgy at this location was celebrated on December 2, 1962, the church has remained an active presence in the community. In the late 1990s, the church began to host public concerts and poetry readings that celebrated Ukrainian culture. One of the most delightful contributions the All Saints Ukrainian Orthodox Church has made to the neighborhood has been the intricate mosaic on its facade. Created by Vasyl Barabash with assistance from Phillip Ravensburg, the mosaic jubilantly represents the protection of the Mother of God. While the mosaic was only completed and dedicated in 2012, the practice and importance of this type of iconography in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are imbued with centuries of history and cultural value.