Sunday, April 1, 2012

Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, Brooklyn, NY


A few months ago I visited a very interesting and historical church that was part of a "Walking Brooklyn" tours my friends and I took this past winter.  Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, located at 75 Hicks Street, in the Brooklyn Height neighborhood of Brooklyn , New York, was built in 1849. It was founded in 1847 by transplanted New Englanders who wanted a Congregational church like those in which they had been raised, with a simple order of worship, governed by the congregation.



The 21 men and women who founded the church in Brooklyn Heights called as their first pastor Henry Ward Beecher, who soon became considered "The Most Famous Man in America," through his powerful preaching and outspoken opposition to slavery. The preacher and abolitionist's church was also “the Grand Central depot” of the Underground Railroad. Beecher was also the brother of the author Harriet Beecher Stowe, who wrote the novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin." Published in 1853, it was the anti slavery novel that helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War.


An informational placard on the outside wall of the church. As you read, a piece of Plymouth Rock is in the adjoining building, which I will show you later in this post.


Many celebrated Americans became a part of Plymouth Church's history.  It is the only New York City church that Abraham Lincoln worshipped in before he became president.  Mark Twain spoke at Plymouth, as did many other famous writers and activists, including Clara Barton, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Greeley, and William Thackery. In February 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. preached a sermon on "The American Dream."



The original organ inside the church, installed in 1847, was replaced in 1866 by what was then the largest pipe organ ever built in the United States. The casework and pipes visible today are part of that organ, made by E. and G.G. Hook of Boston. The present Aeolian-Skinner Organ is a four-manual, 59-rank, 4162 pipe instrument.



When fire damaged Plymouth's original church on Cranberry Street, a new red brick Sanctuary seating 2,800 was quickly constructed, fronting on Orange Street behind the ruined original. That first building, now called the Church House, was later rebuilt to house offices, parlors and Sunday School rooms.



It also houses a small museum in its arcade consisting of interesting artifacts from the church's history.



There hangs one of the last known portraits of Henry Ward Beecher.


Henry Ward Beecher made headlines by concluding many sermons with a mock slave auction where he would act as a fast-talking auctioneer in search of donations towards the purchase of slaves' freedom.  Pictured above is Sarah, a 21 year old daughter of a white father and slave mother in Virginia who was going to be sold further south until Beecher heard about her situation and arranged for her to be brought to the church.  The parishioners passed forth donations to raise her $1,200 fee and buy her freedom as well as a small house in upstate New York where she supported herself by keeping chickens and growing vegetables to sell..



One of the most notable slaves whose freedom was bought at Plymouth Church was a young girl named "Pinky." A parishioner placed a small gold ring in the offering plate for her and Beecher placed the ring upon the child's finger.   Pinky, who was renamed Rose Ward, lived in Washington  DC and became a school teacher.  She returned to the church in 1927 to give thanks to the church , and to return the ring, which is now on display.



Photos of a slave pen in Virginia, a painting of President's Abraham Lincoln worshipping in Plymouth Church, and Ulysses S Grant, who visited the church following his Presidency.



A photo of Harriet Beecher Stowe and her novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and also a book of her letters and journals



In 1934, Plymouth Church merged with the neighboring Church of the Pilgrims, the first Congregational church in Brooklyn, becoming Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims. Organized in 1844, the Church of the Pilgrims had as its founding pastor Richard Salter Storrs, who served the Church until 1900.  A piece of Plymouth Rock was given to the Church of the Pilgrims in 1840. It was placed here on a pedestal in the Plymouth Church building in 1940 after the merger.



A close up of the Plymouth Rock fragment.




The video above from Brooklyn Independent Television with more interesting information about Plymouth Church, including the first hymnal in the United States with words and music on the same page, that was invented by Henry Ward Beecher.

Tours of Plymouth Church are available by appointment Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, and on Sundays after morning worship without an appointment. Please email Lois Rosebrooks, Director of History Ministry Services at loisrosebrooks@plymouthchurch.org or contact her by phone at 718-624-4743 to make an appointment.



I'm linking this post to the following blog events:
 
Mosaic Monday
Blue Monday
Our World Tuesday
Outdoor Wednesday

Many thanks to the blog hosts of these events!


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56 comments:

LDH said...

Wow, Pat, this is a really well done post and very interesting! You have including so much information and I have really enjoyed learning about Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Very interesting and SO educational, Pat... I'm glad I didn't live in the time of slavery... My ancestors had slaves (at least some of them)--but according to their last wills and testaments, they must have been good to their 'slaves'.... Still terrible that it happened at all.

I never had a racial bone in my body. In fact, a black couple lived across the street from us, and I lived in the south. GREAT people...

It had to be a hard time for our country. Most people today are very sad and sorry for what happened...

Thanks for such an interesting post.
Hugs,
Betsy

Cottage and Broome said...

You can always find something interesting in NYC! Informative post, Laura

Barbara F. said...

Pat, I was born ans raised in Brooklyn and lived their for almost 39 years! I would never think that there could be a Pilgtim church. I want to visit here. xo

Lorrie said...

What amazing history is held in that church. I love the story of Henry Ward Beecher auctioning off slaves in the service to purchase their freedom.

Sarah said...

Great post, Pat. I always learn something when I visit here, and the photos make me want to see these places you share.

Ginny said...

What amazing stories associated with this church, I didn't know most of them!

Ingmarie We said...

Great post and mosaic. Have a nice week and Happy Easter.

eileeninmd said...

Pat, great post and lots of great info on the church. Cool seeing part of the Plymouth rock. Wonderful photos, have a great week. Happy Easter!

Happier Than a Pig in Mud said...

A very informational post, the pics of the inside and organ are very pretty. Happy Easter Week Pat:@)

Tracy said...

As always, a great treat of history & architecture and walk about NYC... every grateful for the experience, Pat! :o) Happy Days... and wishing you & yours Happy Easter too ((HUGS))

podso said...

What an informative post! I appreciate all the time you took to share with us and it was so interesting to read about the brother of HB Stowe. What an amazing pipe organ!

Old Kitty said...

I don't even know where to begin with this amazing post but I am so so caught up with the story of Sarah and Rose - two amazing women from such ignoble starts in life. I'm still agog at how people were "bought and sold" this way. Then again amongst the worst of humanity shines the best - in the form of the Beechers and the anti-slavery groups. The Plymouth Church is definitely worth a visit!! Thanks Pat! Take care
x

Vee said...

Fascinating! I always feel as if I've just had the most wonderful history lesson after visiting one of these posts. This reminds me that I still have not read the biography of Henry Ward Beecher, which is sitting on the shelf waiting. Thank you for all the research and photos.

diane b said...

An interesting snippet of American history. Beecher was an inspiration.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Fascinating story Pat. I had no idea that this church existed, much less its history. so much to learn from the past.

Grace said...

It is such a well done post. I love reading your blog. The pictures and the history are amazing. I definately have to visit. Thanks for sharing Grace xoox

Judy ~ My Front Porch said...

A most interesting historical tour once again, Pat! Who would have known that Henry Ward Beecher is credited with producing the first hymnbook having music and words on one page?

ellen b. said...

What a wonderful post with such great historical info. That's cool about Beecher's connection to the first hymnal.

Tanna at The Brick Street Bungalow said...

Just like taking a mini history class! Love it, Pat. You are an amazing blogger. Thanks for another tour! blessings ~ Tanna

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Makes me proud to read about such noble doings of an American founded church. It is odd how people think of Puritans and Congregationalist as being dour rule bound societies while their own writings and history shows people with a vibrant positive affect on the culture of their times.

(Queenmothermamaw) Peggy said...

Prize winning post there Pat. I love you presentations of your very historic and amazing city. blessings for Easter to you and your family.
QMM

SmilingSally said...

I especially liked the story about Pinky. What a heart-warmer that was.

Happy Easter!
Happy Blue Monday, Pat!

Snap said...

Wonderful post, Pat. Lovely images and so educational. Well done!

Anu@My Dream Canvas said...

Great post. I would love for you to visit me at My Dream Canvas :-) You have a lovely blog.

Gary said...

A really well done post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

SavoringTime in the Kitchen said...

Wonderful post, Pat! I love how the church helped gained freedom for those girls and how Pinky returned the ring that helped free her. Truly inspiring.

Robert Geiss said...

Thank you for your effort and this interesting journey, teaching me something that I did not know before.
Please have a good Tuesday.


daily athens photo

Jacqueline said...

What a beautiful post and so much wonderful information. The church is just lovely. I adore the pipe organ. How wonderful to know more about great people who tried to help others less fortunate than themselves!

Gardening in a Sandbox said...

That New York is so full of great history. Wonderful history lesson. V

Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Wonderful post, I loved all the photos and the information.

GailO said...

Fantastic post Pat! How I want to get back to Brooklyn!

Gracie said...

It's amazing how much history there is behind and inside a building.... thanks for taking us along your visit.

Riet said...

Hi Pat. First I want to thank you for your prayers for my recovery. Everything goes well. You found another intersting part of history for us to read. Harriet Beecher Stowe is also in ourt part of the world a well known name.Of course I read her book. What a wonderful church with so much history.
Hugs from Riet

Kate said...

What a great post! I enjoyed learning about Plymouth Church....very interesting and informative.

Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs said...

I'm continually in awe of the work you put into your posts, Pat. So much interesting history and information to go with your incredible photos. I love that story of Pinky.
I've said it before, I think: You really oughta turn a selection of your posts into a book. Maybe even an e-book, a tour guide for New York. I'd definitely buy it...and I don't even plan a trip there any time soon. :)
Always a pleasure to visit.

Ebie said...

Hi Pat, you are a great tour guide! You could be a docent too! Love how you give details to this piece of history!

Pondside said...

What a lot of your country's history is in that church.

Cathy said...

Thank you for a wonderful tour, Pat. There is so much history within the walls of that church. I would love to see it with my own eyes someday.

Ann said...

what a marvelous post today. Your decriptions and photos are so informative. I would LOVE to live in the area you do so I could "live" some of these beautiful places. The museum looks phenomenol. Thanks for sharing.
Ann

backroadjournal said...

I always enjoy your posts...they are so interesting. If all history was presented this way, more people would be out exploring the cities they live in and visit.

Ann said...

our suburb has 8 churches, on Good Friday, they have a walk from one church to another.

The French Hutch said...

Hi Pat, this was a great tour. I would love to visit this historic Church. Not only is it interesting I love all the history, and the photos. This must have been a wonderful walking tour. Thanks for sharing it.
Wishing you a wonderful Easter celebration.

~Emily
The French Hutch

Carol said...

Informative post, Pat. Looks like a wonderful place to visit, a church so rich in history!
Wishing you and your family a very happy Easter!

La Petite Gallery said...

Now that's history most people don't know. I hope you leave tis post up awhile. Happy Raster
I will come back and reread this again. yvonne

La Petite Gallery said...

Now that's history most people don't know. I hope you leave tis post up awhile. Happy Raster
I will come back and reread this again. yvonne

Claudia said...

Beautiful posting for this week. I have vague remembrances of this church from the days I wandered Brooklyn Heights. So important to understand our history - certainly good and definitely the bad - it helps us understand ourselves today.

Theanne said...

So very interesting Pat...and it's always a joy to visit Brooklyn again! Does this church still function as a church...you probably said but I must have missed it! All the information and photos...thank you!

Paula's Postings said...

Another very informative post, this will have to go on my places to visit when I am next in NY.

Nezzy said...

I so enjoyed today's tour and all your beautiful pictures but what I truly fell head over heels for was that wonderful old pipe organ. Wow...I want one! Heeehehehe!

God bless ya sweetie and have yourself a magnificent Easter weekend!!! :oO)

Nezzy said...

OOps! My bad...I see double noses up there...can ya say rhinoplasty???

Yvette said...

Very interesting post, Pat. You are so fortunate to be able to check out history up close and personal in your wonderful Brooklyn neighborhood.

Love the pictures. But I must say I was really intrigued with the idea that this church was instrumental in buying the freedom of persons who would otherwise be shipped down south into slavery.

I didn't know that happened. Learn something new every day.

And by the way, a very Happy Easter to you and your family, Pat. Happy days.

SwedishCorner-DownUnder...Pernilla said...

Happy Easter from Australia♥
... Thank you for stopping by and leaving a sweet comment :)

Linda (More Fun Less Laundry) said...

Hi Pat, Thanks for reminding me about this post! I visited it before, then went to find my husband to show it to him, and forgot to leave you a comment! As you may remember, we lived on Hicks St, I think 148 but don't quote me, near the St. George, so this neighborhood is really one of the many places I have called home. Your history lesson is excellent, and your photos are making me want to go back for a visit. Maybe when Al is a little more recovered from his surgery we can visit--before it gets too hot. We were in Hartford recently at the Mark Twain House (unfortunately no pictures allowed inside), which is right next door to the Harriet Beecher Stowe museum. They were all neighbors up there, when the area was more rural. Quite a change now! Thank you for the wonderful tour. Linda

Gracey is not my name.... said...

That was so interesting! I didn't know anything about this church. Although Mark Twain's house and Harriet Beecher Stowe's family home are next to each other, I've never visited the later...maybe this summer, as they are right in Hartford. I'd love to visit that church, but when I go into NY, I rarely go to Brooklyn any longer...might have to change that..

Annesphamily said...

Your history lessons are beautiful! I am always enjoying my visits here. What a gorgeous church. Thank you Pat for sharing.