“PORTICO PLACE,” West Village

I’ve always been attracted to collonnaded architecture and my “jones” is partially fulfilled on West 13th Street between 6th and 7th Avenue where there is a former church that has been converted to residences.

Here is the former  Village Presbyterian Church, now residences called Portico Place. Nothing at all was done to alter its exterior, based on the classic Theseion in Athens, Greece, when the “conversion” was done in 1982…in fact the old signboard indicating the hymn numbers (from prayerbooks) was kept! The six-Doric-columned building was finished in 1847 [Samuel Thomson, arch.], with two reconstructions keeping the exterior mostly faithful to the original after fires in 1855 and 1902. According to NY Songlines, before the conversion Protestant and Jewish congregations shared the space, but the synagogue moved after a disagreement during the 1973 Israel-Arab war.

The church became responsible for a footnote in America’s history when, during the 1884 presidential election between James Blaine and Grover Cleveland, Blaine attended a meeting of New York preachers here.  The Rev. Dr. Samuel Burchard extolled, “We are Republicans, and don’t propose to leave our party and identify ourselves with the party whose antecedents have been rum, Romanism, and rebellion.”

A Democratic mole in the audience grabbed onto the anti-Catholic comment and made certain it was extensively publicized.  Catholic opinion rapidly turned against Blaine which cost him New York State.  And because of that he narrowly lost the presidency. [Daytonian in Manhattan]

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”

6/20/18


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