The Oldest Public Building In Continuous Use On the Island of Manhattan
When St. Paul’s Chapel was completed in 1766, it stood in a field “outside the city.” It was built as a “chapel-of-ease” – that is, a chapel constructed to make it easier for people not in the immediate vicinity of the Mother Church to attend services. Today, St. Paul’s Chapel is the oldest public building in continuous use on the island of Manhattan, and the only remaining colonial church. The building is an example of the Georgian Classic-Revival style and resembles St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London. It is constructed of native stone – Manhattan mica-schist with quoins of brownstone. The woodwork, carving, and door hinges are handmade. The master craftsman was Andrew Gautier, who helped save the first Trinity Church during a fire in 1750. The ornamental design of the “Glory” over the altar is the work of Pierre L’Enfant, the French architect who designed the city of Washington, D.C. The “Glory” depicts Mt. Sinai in clouds and lightning, the Hebrew word for “God” in a triangle, and the two Tablets of the Law with the Ten Commandments.
The pulpit, an example of the 18th-century craftsmanship, is surmounted by a coronet and six feathers, thought to be the only emblem of British nobility in New York surviving in its original place. Fourteen original cut-glass chandeliers, handmade in Waterford, Ireland, hang in the nave and the galleries. The organ was built in 1804. The Royal Arms on the gallery are from the time of George III, the last king of the American Colonies.