Slip beneath the scaffolding and step inside one of New York City's last remaining Gilded Age treasures. This Victorian Gothic masterwork includes rare innovations of the period, such as a 19th-century heating and air conditioning system. Completed in 1875 (Carl Pfeiffer, architect), the church predates the nearby St. Patrick's Cathedral (1878), Park Avenue Armory (1880) and Plaza Hotel (1907). The 1,800-seat Sanctuary contains no iconography (in keeping with early Presbyterian austerity) and no right angles; the curvature of the balcony and pews draws all eyes to the impressive pulpit.
The organ case, covered in golden pipes, rises three stories high. Extensive, handcarved woodwork (Kimbel and Cabus of New York) and resplendent stained glass windows (John C. Spence of Montreal) are all original. A stunning mosaic by the renowned WPA-era artist Eugene Savage graces the Fifth Avenue entrance. Just beyond the Sanctuary, visitors can tour the Gallery and its new exhibit featuring Biblical art by the Jerusalem-based artist Jordana Klein.
Beyond the Gallery is Kirkland Chapel (1925, James Gamble Rogers, architect), which features a fully restored stained glass window of Christ and the Archangels. With the entire exterior of the church now under scaffolding, visitors will learn about the extensive, $9 million brownstone restoration underway. Trained docents will be available all weekend to provide guided tours. A popular scheduled tour is the demonstration of the Sanctuary's mighty Austin organ, offered both days.
Sat Tour Info: Tours of the church will be offered on an ongoing basis. Organ Tours will be offered at 12 and 2pm.
Sun Tour Info: Tours of the church will be offered on an ongoing basis. Organ Tours will be offered at 1:45 and 3pm.
UPDATE: The Open Access hours listed in the printed OHNY Weekend Event Guide have changed for Saturday. Please note the correct hours, as indicated on this page.
Image Credit: Porter Binks