Sunday, November 9, 2014

wing and a prayer

Separation of Church and State is enshrined in our Constitution, but down on State Street near the Battery there’s no division.

The Church, in this case, sits right on State.

When built, #7 State was actually on the water. 

All below the redline is actually landfill from before the 1900’s.

This was once a row of wealthy private residences, bathed in cooling breezes that came off the New York harbour.


The occupants could monitor harbor traffic, too, keeping tabs on their importing businesses.

Over the centuries all the houses but #7 were torn down.

Built in 1793, the eastern portion (on the right) was home to James Watson and is the last example of the elegant Federal Style along the harbour.

In 1806 the curved wing of columns was added by architect John McComb, the same man who designed City Hall and Gracie Mansion.


It is said he reused masts as columns on the front of that wing, recycled from sailing ships undergoing steam conversion.

In 1870 the Roman Catholic Church purchased #7 for $1. It served as a hotel until 1886, the year of our ClockTower, when it became the Mission of Our Lady of the Rosary.

Disaster struck the Titanic in April of that same year. The First Class survivors were soothed at the Waldorf Hotel. Steerage found temporary sanctuary here.


Eventually the church sold air rights for $6,000,000 to the glassy boxes that now flank it, and in 1965 built the attached chapel in the same Federal style as #7.  

This faux Georgian chapel now uses Watson’s house as a rectory.

The James Watson House is the very last residence from the Federal Period in the Financial District.

Let us pray it survives!

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