Saturday, June 13, 2009
St Paul's Chapel
It must be history day today. But I find this interesting stuff:
Trinity Parish completed construction on St. Paul’s Chapel, its second chapel-of-ease, in 1766. Today, St. Paul's Chapel is Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use, and its only remaining colonial church.
George Washington worshiped here on his Inauguration Day, April 30, 1789. During the two years New York City was the country's capital, Washington attended services at St. Paul's while Trinity Church was being rebuilt. Hanging above Washington’s pew is a painting of the Great Seal of the United States (adopted in 1782), which was commissioned by the Vestry in 1785. The artist of the painting is unknown.
Directly across the chapel from Washington’s pew is the Governor's pew. The Arms of the State of New York are depicted in an 18th c. painting on the wall above the pew.
St. Paul’s resembles London’s St. Martin in the Fields, and is very likely based on the 1728 pattern book Book of Architecture by James Gibbs. It is constructed of Manhattan mica-schist with brownstone quoins; its woodwork, carving, and door hinges are handmade.
The pulpit is surmounted by a coronet and six feathers. Fourteen cut-glass chandeliers commissioned in 1852 which originally held candles and were later rewired to accommodate electricity hang in the nave and the galleries. The organ case was built in 1804.
On the Broadway side of the chapel's exterior is an oak statue of St. Paul. Below the east window is the monument to General Richard Montgomery, who died at the Battle of Quebec during the American Revolutionary War. This first American monument was commissioned by the Continental Congress in 1776. Benjamin Franklin was directed to secure the execution of the monument in France. Franklin commissioned the prominent French sculptor Jacques Caffieri, who completed the monument in 1779. The monument was installed on the portico of St. Paul’s in 1787. The ornamental design of the "Glory" over the altar is the work of Pierre L'Enfant, who designed Washington, D.C. The "Glory" depicts Mt. Sinai in clouds and lightning, the Hebrew word for "God" in a triangle, and the two tablets of the Law with the Ten Commandments. L’Enfant was asked to camouflage the shadow of the Montgomery Monument in the great window so that it would not distract the worshippers looking toward the altar. L’Enfant carved the “Glory” on the interior, and on the exterior carved iconography showing the birth of a new nation, as depicted by an eagle pulling back the night to expose thirteen rays of the rising sun, juxtaposed with a cherub extinguishing a torch to mourn the fallen hero.
In the spire, the first bell is inscribed "Mears London, Fecit [Made] 1797." The second bell, made in 1866, was added in celebration of the chapel's 100th anniversary.
The Extraordinary Ministry of St. Paul's Chapel
September 2001-May 2002
After the attack on September 11, 2001, which led to the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, St. Paul's Chapel served as a place of rest and refuge for recovery workers at the WTC site.
For eight months, hundreds of volunteers worked 12 hour shifts around the clock, serving meals, making beds, counseling and praying with fire fighters, construction workers, police and others. Massage therapists, chiropractors, podiatrists and musicians also tended to their needs.
Today, St. Paul's continues as an active part of the Parish of Trinity Church, holding services, weekday concerts, occasional lectures, and providing a shelter for the homeless.