Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Saint Mark's Church In The Bowery, East Village NYC



I read this fascinating historical book recently about an almost forgotten period in American history, called "The Island at the Center of the World." It is about the Dutch colony of New Netherlands that was located on the east coast of North America in the seventeenth century for over fifty years, until the English gained control of it in 1664, and turned its capital, New Amsterdam, into New York City.  Journalist and historian Russell Shorto was inspired to write this book when he learned about the New Netherlands Project which is based at the New York State Library in Albany, New York. For the last 30 years historian and linguistic scholar, Charles Gehring, has been translating 400 year old documents from New Amsterdam that were stored in the library for the project, and Shorto then interpreted them into a enthralling tale of the beginnings of the greatest city in the world.

Inspired by this book, I went out to find a little bit of the Dutch history that I read about, and I took a trip into the East Village/Lower East side neighborhood of Manhattan to visit Saint Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, located at 131 East 10th Street, at the intersection of 10th and Stuyvesant Streets and 2nd Avenue.   It is located on the oldest site of continuous worship in New York City and it is the second oldest church in Manhattan.

The church history from it web site states: "The St. Mark’s Church and its yards are just a few reminders of the once vast “bouwerie,” or Dutch plantation, which Peter Stuyvesant, governor of New Amsterdam purchased in 1651 from the Dutch West India Company. When Stuyvesant died in 1672, his body was interred in a vault under the family chapel he’d had built in 1660. In 1793, Stuyvesant’s great-grandson, Petrus Stuyvesant, donated the chapel property to the Episcopal Church with the stipulation that a new chapel be erected and on April 25, 1795, the cornerstone of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery was laid."


The site is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated a New York City Landmark in 1966.


An information plaque on the exterior of the church giving a brief account of its history.
(All photos may be enlarged for easier viewing -- click on once and then again to enlarge full size.  Use your computer browser's back arrow to return to the post after viewing enlarged photo)


The bust of Peter Stuyvesant is located in the churchyard. He served as the last Dutch Director-General of the colony of New Netherland (New York) from 1647 until it was ceded provisionally to the English in 1664. The bust was designed by Dutch sculptor Toon Dupuis, and presented to St.Mark’s by Queen Wilhelmina of Holland and the Dutch Government on December 5, 1915.

After losing the New Amsterdam colony to the English, Stuyvesant was recalled to Holland. He later petitioned to return to his beloved renamed New York, and died here in 1672. He is entombed in a wall in the St. Mark’s Church east yard, and and six generations of his descendants are also found in the churchyard. The black marker in the photo above shows the location of his tomb.

"Here (Peter Stuyvesant) built a manor and chapel. Here he would live out his life and be buried, and here, over the parade of centuries, flappers, shtetl refugees, hippies and punks – an aggregate of local residents running from Trotsky to Auden to Charlie Parker to Joey Ramone – would shuffle past his tomb.

-- Russell Shorto, from his book "The Island at the Center of the World."


There are other historical notables buried in the churchyard, one being Daniel Tompkins, a former governor of New York (1807-1817) and Vice President of the United States (1817-1825).

Some contemporary Memorial plaques on the church facade in the east churchyard.

The church web site states: "Support for the arts is an integral part of St. Mark’s community-based mission. Poetry, theatre and dance have co-existed at St. Mark’s providing a neighborhood and national forum for original and provocative performances. W.H. Auden, William Carlos Williams, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Kahil Gibran, W.H. Auden and Allen Ginsberg have taken part in poetry readings. Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham danced at St. Mark’s, and Sam Shepard produced his first plays here. Today three innovative projects are housed at St. Mark’s: The Poetry Project, Danspace Project and Ontological-Hysteric Theater."


The Saint Mark's in-the-Bowery west churchyard is a lush green space in summer, shaded by a canopy of many trees. It is a little "secret garden" of sort, a quiet oasis where you can sit and rest and retreat from the crowded city. I think it's a fitting that it is known as "The Healing Garden."


A sign in the churchyard.

Another view of the west churchyard.  The white building in the rear is the historic Ernest Flagg Rectory of Saint Mark's. There were quite a few people enjoying a Sunday afternoon in the yard.


One of my favorite photos of the day: a beautiful red rose resting above the rusted iron fence of the churchyard.  In a place with so much history it was a small reminder to me to enjoy each precious moment, as life, and the world, are ever changing.


I'm adding this post to the weekly "Outdoor Wednesday"event on Susan's blog A Southern Daydreamer. Please visit Susan's blog today to see links to all the blogs participating with their wonderful outdoor posts.







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50 comments:

~Cheryl said...

Pat, this is simply wonderful! I enjoy history; what a great little book you found. Great post!

Debbie said...

Cool cool cool....designated the year I was born...You always give me a little bit of education here. The church is gorgeous and we would love to visit it.

Kathleen said...

I wish I knew you when I was still teaching! I taught this every year when we studied New Netherlands/New Amsterdam. You could have been our guest speaker!
Very interesting!

Sheila said...

Thank you for such interesting journeys and commentaries. I find them fascinating so have added your Blog to my "Blogs I Follow" list. My daughter is loving New York City and I'll look up the places she's visited here on your blog. Thanks for the information and lovely photos!

Tales From My Empty Nest said...

You always have the most interesting posts. What a pretty old church. And I love the healing garden. So beautiful!!! The picture of the rose is so pretty too. Thanks for sharing. Love & blessings from NC!

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Pat, I do believe that this is one of the most fascinating posts on NYC you've done. I loved every word, and I think all the info about St. Mark's history is amazing. So many notables connected to that property. And how interesting about the poetry project. I'm Episcopalian, so I was very interested in all of this. And for some reason, I thought the Dutch rule lasted longer than it did. Thanks for sharing this and for all of the work that goes into your posts!

XO,

Sheila :-)

Claudia said...

I know and visited this church many times. It is a safe haven and filled with the past. How lovely to rediscover it with you.

Sara said...

Thank you for this very interesting and historical tour. I enjoyed every word and photo. It is a lovely little green oasis in the city too, or so it appears.

Lily Hydrangea said...

Re your lovely rose, this is so true Pat, there is nothing like the 'present' a true gift that we may as well appreciate!
your posts are always so informative. thank you!

Annesphamily said...

Pat, you are such a terrific historian finding all this great stuff to blog about! Your pictures are always terrific too! Thanks always Hugs Anne

Joanne Kennedy said...

That sounds like a very interesting book and one I would enjoy reading. I'll have to try and find a copy.

New York has the best churches! So much history there and wonderful stories at every turn.

You are soooooo lucky to live there. But I know you know that.

Your rose photo is lovely. A perfect blend of old and new. It reminds me that everything on this Earth came from the Earth and will soon return to it.

Hugs,
Joanne

Allie and Pattie said...

Pat, I loved this! Haven't been there in YEARS but it just seems to have gotten lovelier. As always, I learn so much here
xoxo Pattie

Old Kitty said...

I thought I couldn't be more amazed at the history of New York City when I read about the Ontological-Hysteric Theatre!

I'm reading away being so fascinated by the fact that NYC was Dutch and called New Amsterdam before the British came along and ruined it all for Peter Stuyvesant! :-)

Then this theatre pops up. What a fantastic concept and so apt for the lovely green and tranquil space around St Mark's church. Absolutely fascinating stuff - this from the OHT website explaining the vision of OHT's founder, Richard Foreman: "the density of his compositional theater is an attempt to viscerally reflect and process everything that he has inherited from his explorations in twentieth century thought and art"

Now if that isn't New York City, I don't know what!!!

Thank you for such a thrilling history of this wonderful city. One day, one day I so hope to see all these places - especially the East Village!

Take care
x

mbkatc230 said...

Wonderful post Pat. The book sounds fascinating, I'm going to look for it. I too thought that the Dutch control lasted longer. Beautiful church, and the grounds are so peaceful and lush. Great tour! Kathy

La Petite Gallery said...

Pat you are amazing,
Have to get the book . I can't believe NYC has so many wonderful places..The photo of the rose and fence is great. yvonne

Gracie said...

It's the kind of book I like to read, I must check out if I can find a copy here.... Thanks for the head up.

Shellbelle said...

I love exploring historical places and I can't drive by a marker without stopping to see what it says. Our country is so rich in its history and reading about places such as this leaves me in awe. That's one of the things I love about blogging, seeing places and learning things I would otherwise never known about. Thanks for sharing this place today and I also love the photo of the rose. Beautiful!

Ciao Chow Linda said...

That church and garden are jewels in New York City. Thanks for bringing them to your readers.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

What a beautiful old church --with so much history. I loved seeing the garden area too, Pat... It dose look like a 'healing' place...

Hugs,
Betsy

mrs. c said...

Pat,
Once again I have learned so much from your post and am so jealous that you live in such a wonderful city so rich in history.

Your childhood sounds like mine! I only wish that children today could have these experiences.

Creative Carmelina said...

as usual Pat....gorgeous photography draws me right into whatever it is you're talking about!

well done!

ciao bella
creative carmelina

Grace said...

I have to go purchase this book and read it. Thank you so much for sharing. It is always so facinating visiting your blog. I love the pictures and the History. Stay cool...It is so hot out today! Grace xoxo

Melanie said...

What a lovely little green place in the city. I love how the history is clearly on display so anyone can read it.

merrilymarylee said...

This is so fascinating! I love these treasures you dig for us. Just reading about places like this is a delight, but your photos actually took me there.

Another ***** gem!

Lynn said...

Pat, this is where my first ancestor (paternal) came to America. He was an Andreison but changed his name to Van Buskirk for some reason. I am sending this to my sister, who is the genealogist of our family.

Dishesdone said...

I always enjoy the history you share, Pat! Great post!

Atticmag said...

I always enjoy your posts. And from this one I learn about something in my own city which I never knew. Delightful! Jane F.

eileeninmd said...

Very pretty church and a very interesting post. Lovely photos, Pat!

Vee said...

So much to learn at this blog. Most of it is all new to me and very interesting. I wasn't sure if I found the black marker of P.S.'s grave... That final picture could win an award. Wonderful!

shari @ little blue deer said...

That is really fascinating, I love New York history. The cool thing is that so much of it hasn't been destroyed, I mean, a lot has, but you can also find places like this. Just lovely, really enjoyed this post!

La Petite Gallery said...

Thanks for the comment. I hope you are right about the Cancer, from your mouth to GODS ears.
I loved this post. yvonne

http://graceolsson.com/blog said...

Pap, i read your blog everyday..i like the photos and more, much more the posts...your posts help me so much with the english language
congrats and thank very much
graceolsson.com/blog

夏瓊富 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
My name is PJ. said...

I come here for my lessons. You're a great guide and teacher!

I would love to see the stained glass window in person, from the inside!

Jenny said...

Pat, that stained glass is amazing. I am going to order that book for my husband (and sneak a peak at it), he adores history books.

I love the way you take us with you. You are wonderful at this.

steviewren said...

It sounds like an intriguing book. The church gardens are lovely. It's neat that you are still learning new things about your hometown. And that you share them with us.

Baba said...

Hi Pat, thanks for sharing all of this great history of this church and of the Dutch..I would love to visit there and sit on a bench and enjoy the view around me. Hugs, Baba

Rettabug said...

What a fabulously entertaining & informative post, Pat!! I never fail to learn something when I come to your beautiful blog! You have such great places to visit. I'm jealous!

I think I must put this book on my list of *must reads* although I think books of this type are so much more enjoyable if one is familiar with the area in which they are set.

Your final shot of that rose could be a painting...just spectacular!!

Tracy said...

Loved this post, Pat...as always you bring history to life and to us! I'm adding that book to my reading list! Happy Weekend, my friend :o) ((HUGS))

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myletterstoemily said...

what a marvelous history lesson and
grand dutch tour. the secret garden
was just enchanting.

i have a fondness for all dutch life:
mainly poffitties, windmills, and delft
china.

thank you for enriching our lives with
your wealth of information.

Tara said...

Hi Pat

I
You know we have Dutch roots here in NYC from 1620 or so! This book is SO on my summer reading list! I always feel like I have taken a great course in history frmo you! :0)

PS--last day of school--hooray!

Tracy @ ComfortandLuxury said...

Another beautiful oasis in the middle of your city... and a history lesson too! Great post and thanks for the book review. I'll add it to my list.

Just a little something from Judy said...

Another historic post filling me in on a man, his ministry and the church he founded. I find it so educational to visit your blog. A safe haven in the middle of a big city. I liked the quiet green courtyard, and the church is beautiful.

LDH said...

Most interesting photos and post! I love the sign in the churchyard... if only it were that easy!

Laura in Paris said...

I always learn something interesting and enojoyable when I visit your blog. Thank you.

Oliag said...

Mr O will love that book!... and I loved this post!...great photos to go along with all this wonderful history...Thanks Pat!

Trotter said...

Hi Pat! Sorry for the absence, but after a long weekend break, I was working abroad last week...

This is a wonderful post for a New York (old New Amsterdam) lover. Thanks!!

Meanwhile, Blogtrotter Two discovers Sardinia! Enjoy and have a great week!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

How interesting! I went to my library online and requested the book. It sounds like one I will enjoy! Love your photos! They will mean even more to me when I look at them as I read the book! Thanks! ♥

Damie said...

Hi Pat, What a wonderful Blog it is! About the book: it's really a good book. Another great author about the Dutch days of NYC is named Jaap Jacobs. I really love to wander the street of New York. When my daughters where 9 or 10, I started to take short breaks in your great city. Í live nearby Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Great post about the church!