Experience the history of one of the neighborhood’s remarkable religious structures, Marble Collegiate Church. Located at 1 West 29th Street near Fifth Avenue, the Church has been a staple of the community since 1854. The property was designated a NYC Landmark in 1967, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and is a popular site for celebrity weddings.
Marble Collegiate Church was designed by New York City architect Samuel A. Warner. Built between 1851-1854 near a dairy farm, the property reportedly put in place an iron fence, which much of it still remains, to keep livestock out. The church was constructed from chunks of white marble shipped down river from Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. “Designed in the Neo-Romanesque Gothic style,” notes the Church’s website marblechurch.org, “Warner created a soaring, open interior, featuring cantilevered balconies with no visible means of support.”
The Church has preserved its original mahogany pews with swinging doors that kept out drafts. “Their brass numbers are a reminder of the days of family pews and reserved seating,” writes marblechurch.org. “The chairs on the chancel and the marble and mahogany communion table are also 1854 originals.” In 1891, the Church was one of the first to receive electricity and the city’s first electric organ. Two stained-glass windows designed by neighborhood Art Nouveau artist Louis Comfort Tiffany of Tiffany Studios were installed a decade later.
The structure’s 215-foot steeple, according to the Church’s website, “resembles that of a New England wooden church, topped by an original Dutch-style weather vane with a rooster, a reminder of the cock that crowed three times after Peter’s denial of Christ.” In addition, “the tower’s bell has tolled upon the death of every President since Martin Van Buren in 1862.” Marble Collegiate Church is considered the oldest Protestant place of continuous worship in North America since its Lower Manhattan launch as part of the Collegiate Church of New York in 1628. Its present-day denominational affiliations are the Reformed Church in America and United Church of Christ. Among Marble’s best-known Senior Ministers are Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, author of the best-selling book The Power of Positive Thinking, and Dr. Arthur Caliandro.
Today, Marble Collegiate Church maintains a commitment “to inclusivity, to being a place of welcome, safety, love, and respect for people of every age, station in life, economic status, color, sexual orientation, or category the world constructs to segregate or alienate people from each other. We inspire everyone to become positive thinkers who make a difference in the world.”