NYC - West Village: St. Luke in the Fields
Built as a summer chapel for Trinity Church, this austere Federal Style building is the third oldest Church in New York. Named after St. Luke, the physician evangelist, in recognition of the Village's role as a refuge from yellow fever epidemics, the Episcoal church was organized in 1820. One of the founding wardens was Clement Clarke Moore, a gentleman scholar of biblical Hebrew and Greek who also penned "Twas the night before Christmas." The cornerstone was laid in 1821 and the Church was consecrated on Ascension Day, May 16, 1822. In the 19th century, St. Luke's was a center of the Catholic renewal and the Oxford Movement. The parish became the first in the city to offer daily services of the Divine Office and a weekly Sunday Eucharist. In 1891, St. Luke's became a chapel of Trinity Church, which divested it in 1976.
Before the island was widened by landfill, the church stood at the edge of the Hudson River surrounded by farms, streams and shaded country lanes. It was often accessed by boat in the days when the Village flourished as a country retreat for Manhattanites whose winter abodes were located further to the south. Its modest architectural expression reflects its function as a country chapel. St. Luke's enclosed its garden and burial grounds with seven Federal townhouses. Although a 1958 renovation allowed for the demolition of several of the row houses and the construction of a modern school, St. Luke's retains its insular, pastoral character. In 1981, the church was carefully restored after a serious fire.