Friday, August 7, 2009

An Historic Russian Orthodox Cathedral In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY

This beautiful church is the Russian Orthodox Cathedral of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, located at 228 N 12th Street, in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. This cathedral is a New York City Landmark, and has graced the Greenpoint-Williamsburg, Brooklyn skyline since 1922. According to the cathedral's website, it is the only example of its kind of Byzantine Revival architecture in New York, and perhaps the United States. It is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The founders of the parish came to America from various Slavic regions of East Europe, including the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, beginning in 1880. Most of them settled in the Williamsburg and Greenpoint neighborhoods because of the availability of low-cost housing and jobs in the factories and warehouses that were prevalent in those areas at that time. Services were first held in parishioners homes. and then a former Methodist Church on North 5th Street was purchased and renovated and incorporated as the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of St. Vladimir in 1908.
As the parish grew, a larger church was needed, and a new site was found consisting of 5 building lots on the corner of North 12th St and Driggs Ave. The architect, Louis Allmendiger, based his design for the new church on the Cathedral of the Dormition within the Moscow Kremlin, which has 5 domes supported by four large columns. The Schneider Company was contracted to build it for $117,000, and the construction work began in 1916. On September 3, 1922 the construction was completed, and the church was consecrated. The official charter name for the new church was recorded as the "Russian Greek Orthodox Church of the Transfiguration."

Please click to enlarge to see detail
Above is a mosaic of some of the interesting historical and religious plaques that can be seen on the exterior of the cathedral.

I was fortunate that the cathedral was open in preparation for vespers which were scheduled for 6PM on a Saturday evening. Inside the church there are oak wood floors and a wide main aisle ending with a beautifully painted iconostasis, which is the screen decorated with icons that divides the sanctuary from the nave in an Eastern Orthodox church.
All photos can be clicked on to enlarge to see detail.
There are also beautiful and highly detailed frescoes on the walls -- notice a depiction of "The Last Super" above the sanctuary, and angels on the ceiling corners.

Here is a partial view of one of the stained glass windows and the interior of one of the large cupolas.

Please click on to enlarge to see detail
Above is a mosaic of some of the religious items on display inside the church and the stained glass windows.

Across the street from this magnificent cathedral is a community garden named "The Green Dome," which is a reference to the copper patina cupolas of the cathedral that are within it's view. You can see more of this garden in my prior blog post by clicking here.
They are both beautiful peaceful places to visit and appreciate as representations of what faith and perseverance can accomplish, for both the reverence of God and nature.


Gracie said...

Thanks for sharing another interesting place in NYC. I remember visiting such a church in Nice some years ago, it was stunning like this one.
I'm uploading my vacation pics, so if you have some spare time and want to take a look.....

Ciao Chow Linda said...

Wow, the interior of that church is really beautiful.

Edie Marie's Attic said...

Hi Pat!

Beautiful! What a lovely place. I love seeing the architecture of churches and the inside of this church is so ornate. You photos are fabulous as usual! I really enjoyed the Secret Garden too. What a sweet place, so restful.

Big hugs, Sherry

happyone said...

What a magnificent building - inside and out. Great pictures and another great post!

Just A Girl said...

Oh Pat,
This is so gorgeous!!! I could spend hours just staring at the beautiful Iconography. There's something so ethereal about Russian and Byzantine Cathedrals. It makes you wish you never had to walk out the door.
I think it's a "bullet point" day ;-).
I hope you have a great Friday!!!

xoxo Cori

RoeH said...

I love the 'art' of different churches. Very cool post.

Anonymous said...

There is a Russian Orthodox church in Louisville, Ky. with a copper dome. Not that large but In the same style. I went to a wedding there and was tickled to death to get the chance to see inside. The churches they are building today are sure not anything that that. I hate what is going on in this country about our freedoms. Blessings ♥♥♥

GMG said...

Hi Pat!
Excellent pictures, wonderful post! It looks a bit like the Russian Church in Geneva, Switzerland or in Nice, France!

Blogtrotter is now showing that Reykjavik is not entirely grey... ;)). Enjoy and have a fabulous weekend!

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

It is a beautiful building, with lots to look at, curves, angles, corners, and I really love the gorgeous blue domed ceiling inside!

Arlene Delloro said...

Thanks for today's great armchair vacation. My mom spent her early years in Greenpoint, so it was especially interesting.

Junie Moon said...

That church is gorgeous. I love church buildings like this, has so much more character than some of the bland buildings being erected today. You feel spiritual just looking at the outside of churches such as this Russian Orthodox example.

Bill said...

Just spectacular, Pat! Thank you for taking us to such a fascinating place.

Hope your weekend goes well.


cherie said...

am enthralled by big cathedrals, too. it must be very solemn in there during masses...

CatHerder said...

Wow..what beautiful architecture...i have seen it from the outside, but never the inside!

Anonymous said...

What an interesting place. It wouldn't be out of place in any town in Eastern Europe.

Beautiful colours in the stained glass.

Fifi Flowers said...

GORGEOUS architecture!!! Thanks for the tour!
Bon week-end!

Judy said...

Russian Orthodox churches are most beautiful...but I usually see only the outside. Thanks for sharing!

Linda Lou said...

What an amazing church - I always enjoy you sharing just a little bit more about Brooklyn that I never knew about!

Anonymous said...

Awesome-looking church. I didn't know this was in Brooklyn. Very cool.


The Quintessential Magpie said...

Pat, it's truly amazing. Love the colors inside and all of the beautiful designs.


Sheila :-)

Just a little something from Judy said...

Fascinating, educational, and beautiful...ways to describe this blog and the posts that you share. Thank you so much!

Laura @ the shorehouse. said...

Just gorgeous, really. And how beautiful it looks rising above that amazing community garden! I totally love the architecture and design of religious buildings. I can't pass an old church/synagogue/etc up when I'm on vacation somewhere new.

Kimberlée Anne-Marie Elisabeth said...

T'is a most lovely, peaceful place of God. I do agree that Russian churches are most lovely to view. I extend to you a warm greeting and convey my sincere gratitude in sharing this grand edifice.

Я смиренно благодарим Вас.
Baroness Fredericks

ceecee said...

Hi Pat,
Many thanks for your comment and for sending me over to view these amazing places. I didn't see the Ukrainian Church, though. The one I photographed is across the street from McSorley's and this is the one in Williamsburg - which I have seen. It's beautiful.
I miss NY a lot...grew up in N.J. and lived in NYC for 10 years. I still call it home.
Best wishes,