St. Philip’s Protestant Episcopal Church is the fourth home of New York City’s first African-American congregation of Protestant Episcopalians. From its beginnings as the African Episcopal Catechetical Institution in the City of New York shortly after the American Revolution, St. Philip’s was established as its own parish in 1818 under the leadership of Bishop John Henry Hobart and the Reverend Peter Williams, Jr. St.
Philip’s long and inspiring chronicle of religious and social activism adds a depth to our national history not generally acknowledged. The movement of St. Philip’s congregation northward, beginning in lower Manhattan, to the present location in Harlem, reflects the residential patterns of New York City’s African-American population. When the Reverend Hutchens Chew Bishop purchased residential property in Harlem in 1908 on behalf of St. Philip’s and the church building was constructed at its present location, St. Philip’s became one of the first institutions to attract African-Americans to Harlem.
St. Philip’s Church building was designed in the neo-Gothic style by the firm of Tandy & Foster. The design of the facade, a response to certain liturgical requirements, incorporates fourteenth-century English, or Perpendicular, Gothic elements in contrasting orange Roman brick and cast-stone aggregate. Vertner W. Tandy was the first African-American architect to be registered in the State of New York and George Washington Foster, Jr., was among the first African-Americans to practice within the architectural profession in the United States. St. Philip’s has continued its nearly two hundred-year tradition of service to its congregation and community, addressing the spiritual needs of its members and providing a variety of social programs.
STATUS Designated Individual Landmark
“I don’t know what the City would be without HDC. [They] testified before LPC time after time and helped us focus on the right issues. We would not be an historic district without HDC! ”
Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance
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Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site
“HDC provided guidance and shared information during that process—we knew which Council members were going one way or another and we changed a few minds. I don’t think NoHo would have had as cohesive a district had it not been for HDC’s aid.”
Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension
“I remember Richard saying at a meeting, we have someone here from HDC, Nadezhda Williams, Director of Preservation and Research, to help us. She said to us, ‘You are not the only ones going through this.’ HDC included us in an enormous community”
Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society