Cloisters of Saint John Lateran, Rome. Source:

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

The Agony And The Ecstasy. Saint Thomas More Church, Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York.

Stained-Glass Window in the Apse of
Saint Thomas More Church,
Upper East Side, Manhattan,
New York.


After the wonderful news that The Church of The Holy Innocents, New York, had been saved from demolition, the following News has arrived, reference Saint Thomas More Church, Upper East Side, Manhattan.

The following Text is taken from 

We told you it was a little premature to break out the champagne. We have now had a report that St Thomas More parish on the Upper East Side will be closed and its parishioners “invited” to join St Ignatius Loyola and its Jesuits:

“Gasps were heard and tears were seen when Pastor Kevin Madigan informed parishioners this past Sunday at each Mass that their church was likely to close next August. It was a stunning blow for the vibrant church community that had received numerous assurances that St. Thomas More Catholic Church was safe.

St. Thomas More serves a highly affluent family community on Manhattan’s Upper East Side with regular Masses, as well as with many informative and noteworthy events. The church is free of debt and its operations are financially sound.”

From the Huffington Post.

In a way it is poetic justice, for St. Thomas More was established to offer an alternative to Jesuit dominance of the wealthiest neighborhood of New York City. I doubt anyone could have imagined that such a parish would be closed. but it continues a emerging pattern of the liquidation of smaller parishes (Our Lady of Peace, St. Elizabeth of Hungary have been announced; others have been rumored) in some quite well-to-do areas of the city. Areas with correspondingly high real estate values….

The following Text is taken from Wikipedia - the free encyclopaedia, unless otherwise stated.

The Church of Saint Thomas More, Upper East Side, is part of a Roman Catholic Church complex located on East 89th Street, off Madison Avenue, the Upper East Side, in Manhattan, New York City. The Parish is under the authority of the Archdiocese of New York.

Attached to the complex is the Church (1870), a Single-Cell Chapel (1879), a Rectory (1880), and a Parish House (1893). The Church building was built, in 1870, for the Protestant Episcopal Church, as the Chapel of The Beloved Disciple, in the Gothic Revival architectural style.

originally owned by The Protestant Episcopal Church
as The Chapel of The Beloved Disciple.
Photo: 22 December 2009.
Source: Own work.
Author: Jim.henderson
(Wikimedia Commons)

Under various names, the Church building has been used by three Christian denominations, including Episcopalians, Dutch Reformed, and Catholics. It is the second-oldest Church on the Upper East Side.

The Church was built from Sandstone, from Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1870, to a design by the architectural firm of Hubert & Pirsson. Architectural historian and New York Times journalist Christopher Gray wrote that: "The Gothic-Style building has the air of a picturesque English Country Church, with a Plot of Green in front and a Square Tower rising in front of the Sanctuary.

According to Andrew S. Dolkart, an architectural historian specialising in Church design, the building is closely modelled after Edward Buckton Lamb's Church of Saint Martin's, Gospel Oak, London (see Gospel Oak), built in 1865. 'It has almost every little quirky detail of the London Church,' says Mr. Dolkart. 'The chamfered corners, the varying planes of the façade, the asymmetrical Pinnacle at the top of the Tower. It really captures your attention.'"

Saint Martin's Church,
Gospel Oak, London.
According to Andrew S. Dolkart, architectural historian (see, above),
Saint Thomas More Church, Upper East Side, is closely modelled
after this Church of Saint Martin, London.
This London Church was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as the 
craziest of London's Victorian Churches', adorned, as it was,
with Pinnacles, like some Fairy-Tale Castle.
The Church was built in 1865.

Attached to the complex are a Single-Cell Chapel (1879), and a Rectory and a Parish House (1880 and 1893). The larger Episcopal Church of The Heavenly Rest, on Fifth Avenue and 45th Street, relocated to 2 East 90th Street, forcing The Beloved Disciple Church to merge with it (its name retained in a Chapel). "The old Church was sold in 1929 to a Dutch Reformed Congregation, and then, in 1950, to The Roman Catholic Church, [and re-Dedicated to] Saint Thomas More."

The Church was renovated, in the latter half of the 20th-Century, by architect Paul Cornelius Reilly.

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was a Parishioner here until her death. However, her funeral was held at the nearby Church of Saint Ignatius of Loyola because of the number of attendees. On 30 July 1999, after the death and cremation of John F. Kennedy, Jr., the Kennedy family held a Private Memorial Service for him here, which President Clinton attended, and Senator Ted Kennedy gave the Eulogy.

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