3. Plymouth Church — 75 Hicks Street, Brooklyn

IMG_2311 Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims

Plymouth Church was founded in 1847. Its first pastor was the eminent Henry Ward Beecher, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin). Beecher was a captivating orator and tireless abolitionist. Plymouth Church was known as Brooklyn’s “Grand Central Depot” of the Underground Railroad for its prominent activity in helping slaves escape and gain their freedom. Beecher would hold mock auctions at the church during sermons, where he would urge people to bid for the freedom of escaped slaves while simultaneously exhibiting the horrifying aspects of enslavement.

Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison all spoke in Plymouth Church. Abraham Lincoln visited and worshipped in the church in February of 1860. He was, at the time, an unannounced presidential candidate. Lincoln was actually scheduled to speak at Plymouth Church during that same visit, but the venue was relocated at the last minute to Astor House in Manhattan–where he gave a speech that exhibited his anti-slavery sentiment and helped him to win the Republican presidential nomination. The pew Lincoln sat in is now marked with a silver plaque, and Plymouth Church remains the only church in New York City that he attended.

The original building burned down in 1849, which enabled the congregation to build a grander sanctuary seating 2,800. This building still exists and is in use by the same church today. It is now a national historic landmark which contains a piece of Plymouth Rock, one of two in the city.