THE original name of St. Augustine’s Episcopal Chapel at #290 Henry near Jackson Street on the Lower East Side was All Saints Free Church, which is still carved over the front entrance. It was completed in 1829 in Manhattan schist. In “free” churches, rent was not charged for pews. In 1949, the congregation merged with St. Augustine’s Chapel of Trinity Church, then located at 107 East Houston Street, and the new combined congregation used the building on Henry Street. The parish became independent of Trinity in 1976.
The church was built with what it calls “slave galleries” or boxlike enclosures flanking the organ, where African American congregants were segregated during worship. The term “slave gallery” is inaccurate since the church opened in 1829, while slavery in NY State was abolished in 1827.
The present congregation consists mainly of African American local residents.
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