7. Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava

Photograph by Richard Silver

The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava was built in 1850 on 20 West 26th Street with the Gothic Revival style and was almost completely destroyed in a fire last year. The church was originally established as the Trinity Chapel complex was designed by Richard Upton. In 1865, for the very first time in America, the Episcopal church held an Orthodox liturgy which was an unheard of event at the time.

The chapel also held the wedding of Edith Wharton, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and inspired aspects of her novel, The Age of Innocence. Trinity Chapel actively held services and served the community for over fifty years until it was sold in 1942 when the are became commercialized and most of its parishioners opted to move north.

The Cathedral of St. Sava was bought for thirty-thousand dollars by the Serbian Orthodox Diocese. Beyond the religious components of the cathedral, it takes part in cultural and education opportunities that aim to preserve Serbian culture, language, and traditions. After World War II, the church helped refugees and immigrants from Yugoslavia. In 1968, the cathedral was given national landmark status by the New York City Landmarks and Preservation Commission.

Since the fire, the parish has stabilized the remaining walls, at the requirement of the Department of Buildings, and are working with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, city agencies and other organizations for the “proper procedure for renewal of our church,” the cathedral reported in on its website last August. One of the items that did survive the fire is a sculpture of Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla.