Photograph by Richard Silver
It was with heavy heart that we saw the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, formerly the Trinity Chapel, go up in flames yesterday. The church on 25th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue was part of the series of “Vertical Churches,” photographed by Richard Silver and we thought that this stunning photograph would be a way to commemorate the beauty of this church built by Trinity Church for the Episcopal community uptown.
Trinity Chapel and the attached Clergy House were designed by Richard Upjohn, the architect of the rebuilt Trinity Church downtown that still stands today. The Gothic-revival style church featured a stained glass rose window on one end and a highly decorative ambulatory and apse at the front. The ceiling was in a deep blue with gold stars painted in a very similar color scheme and pattern to the Church at Saint-Germain-des-Prés, the oldest church in Paris. In addition, as Untapped Cities reader Theodore Grunewald writes, “it had one of NY’s largest timber hammerbeam roofs.”
The Trinity Chapel School, also part of the complex, and became the church’s Parish House, was designed by Jacob Wrey Mould, known for his work on Central Park, notably the Sheepfold that later became Tavern on the Green. The church was sold in 1942 to Serbian Eastern Orthodox parish and was renamed the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in 1944.
The American writer Edith Wharton (née Jones) was married in a society wedding in 1885 and the church appeared in her classic novel The Age of Innocence.
Trinity Chapel was landmarked by New York City in 1968 and was also on the National Register of Historic Places. It survived a nearby bombing in 1973 but the May 1st, 2016 fire destroyed most of the complex.