NYC: Saint Thomas Church - Altar
On the north wall is one of the four consecrated altars at of St. Thomas Church, part of the World War II Memorial; the Eucharist is celebrated here twice a year, on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day. Above is a prayer for peace, flanked by the Archangels Michael (with sword) and Gabriel (pictured, with trumpet). On the altar rests a book with ulluminations on parchment listing sthe names of parishioners who served in the war; those who gave their lives are shown in red. Still higher are teh small enamled discs representing the branches of the armed services, leading up to carved busts of the chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines.
Founded in 1823, Saint Thomas Church, an Episcopalian (or Anglican) church within the Episcopal Diocese of New York, was incorporated the following year by members from three downtown parishes who wanted to establish a church in their own neighborhood on the northern edge of "settled" Manhattan. The current building, designed in French High Gothic style by Ralph Adams Cram and Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue of the firm Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson, dates to 1813, and is actually the church's fourth home.
The original building, designed in Gothic Revival style by Joseph R. Brady and Reverand John McVickar, at Broadway and Houston Streets, was opened in 1826. It was destroyed by a fire in 1851, and immediately rebuilt the following year. The parish remained there until 1870, when they moved to their current location amid the upper class residences on 53rd Street and 5th Avenue, into a building designed by Richard Upjohn, and featuring bas-relief reredos by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, and murals by John LaFarge. This building was similarly destroyed by a fire, in 1905, leaving only its trademark tower standing.
The current building is built of stone on stone--of plain ashlar limestone exterior surfaces and sandstone interior surfaces--without any steel reinforcing. Characterized by high main arcade and an open triforium and clerestory, the church keeps the proportions of major European and English cathedrals, with nave vaults 95 feet high. French Flamboyant Gothic detail is present in the window tracery, in the small arches of the triforium, and in the rich stonework of the reredos. The 80-foot high reredos, inspired by the altar screen at Winchester Cathedral in England, features 60 sculptural figures by Lee Lawrie.
The church is home to the Saint Thomas Choir which performs music of the Anglican tradition at worship services and offers a full concert series during the course of the year. The boys of the Saint Thomas Choir are enrolled at the Saint Thomas Choir School, the only church-affiliated residential choir school in the United States, and one of only four such schools remaining in the world.
Saint Thomas church was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in .
National Historic Register #80002722 (1980)