Fifth Avenue Presbyterian
Fifth Avenue Presbyterian, located at 5th avenue and 55th, has a spectacular, unique interior. The seating is similar to a theater or stadium with balcony seats. The sanctuary floor slopes upward with pews that fan out, facilitating the view of the centrally located pulpit. Above the pulpit is a choir loft and massive organ. With this design, the entire congregation can easily see and hear the speaker and music. According to NYC Architecture, there are no right angles in the interior unlike more rigid Gothic cathedrals.
New York firm Kimbel and Cabus designed the ash woodwork including the pews, pulpit, and gallery front. Most of the original woodwork remains. The firm’s pieces have been acquired recently by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
According to the church website, the church’s founding dates to 1808. Early congregation members included Oliver Wolcott, Jr., former Secretary of the Treasury, Archibald Gracie, whose Gracie Mansion is now the home of the Mayor of New York. Richard Varick, an aide to George Washington and former Mayor of New York. The congregation moved several times before settling in the current location. The site of the Presbyterian Church of Cedar Street was in downtown New York, which is currently the plaza area for the Chase Bank complex. The church later bought land at Duane and Church streets and finished construction of a new church in 1836. For some reason, a move was made to 19th Street and 5th Avenue in 1852. Soon this church was insufficient and land was purchased at 55th Street and 5th Avenue and the new church was dedicated in 1875.
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