ST. MARK’S CHAPEL, Greenwood Heights

by Kevin Walsh

Today I have another mystery in Greenwood Heights, matching FNY’s earlier one regarding blue pavings stones from Spain. Like many mysteries, its secret is given up but grudgingly and I’ve uncovered things only so far. It concerns a small (apparently) abandoned chapel at #193 34th Street near 4th Avenue, opposite that small tongue of Green-Wood Cemetery that extends that far west.

The chapel is a modest one and only photos from earlier in the decade on Google Street View confirmed it was called St. Mark’s Chapel, as a handmade sign identifying it as a chapel was nailed over the chiseled letters above the door which read: SET S B ASS. Further identifying it as a house of worship are a pair of cherub heads in the lintels above the stained glass windows, as well as pediment on the roofline that seems to have once had a bell in it.

I could have left it at that but I had one more weapon left in my research holster.

Here’s a 1940 photo of #193 34th Street from the NYC Municipal Archives. As you can see the building only later was adapted into a chapel. When built, it was an administration building of some sort. There’s a flagpole on the roof. The Archives website allows you to zoom in on the fuzzy photo, and above the door the chiseled letters read:


So that clears things up, but only up to a point. I don’t know what an “S&B” association is, but I imagine some of you may, so I’ll throw the floor open in Comments.

Update: that didn’t take long. Reliable Brooklyn historian Joe Ditta at the New-York Historical Society passes along this clipping from the Brooklyn Times-Union of September 7, 1930:

Thus, the building dates to 1930, and was built for the Sunset Social and Benevolent Association… Sunset S&B Assn.

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



Tom Walsh October 16, 2020 - 6:27 pm

S & B means “social and benevolent association.”

John October 16, 2020 - 6:33 pm

One possibility securities & banking association.

Eric Costello October 16, 2020 - 6:37 pm

And “S & B” organization means a “social and benevolent” organization. You see them associated a lot with burial plans.

Eric Costello October 16, 2020 - 6:46 pm

Here’s some basic information about the Sunset S&B Association: ; it appears to have been formed in 1915.

Zalman Lev October 16, 2020 - 7:33 pm

Sunset Social & Benevolent Association

Zalman Lev October 16, 2020 - 7:53 pm

Following up: It seems the Sunset Social & Benevolent Association formed circa 1913, moving into this location circa mid-September 1930.

Andy Koeppel October 16, 2020 - 9:06 pm

It;s possibly “savings and banking association.”

Anonymous October 17, 2020 - 10:28 am

Noticed from the names that it’s a multi-ethnic, non-religious social organization which would certainly have been a rarity in 1910’s or 1930’s Brooklyn.

Nunzio October 17, 2020 - 8:20 pm

“set-S-B-ass”…judging by the size of the joint, must be one of the lesser gods….. Perhaps Euripites (The god of flatulence)?


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