Day 589

St. Bartholomew’s

August 10th, 2013

Back in the 1980s, the rector of St. Bart's led a divisive and controversial attempt to secure the church's finances with the construction of a towering glass skyscraper on the site of its community house (the brick and stone building extending from the right side of the church). His plan was strongly opposed not only by preservationists (including, once again, Jackie Kennedy Onassis), but by many parishioners as well.

When the skyscraper scheme met its official demise in 1991 at the hands of the Supreme Court, the church seemed to be on its last legs, with dwindling attendance and a shrinking endowment. But a new rector took the reins in 1994, introducing a "theology of radical welcome" and gradually bringing people back to the church. By the time he retired early last year, the congregation had grown from 150 to almost 3,400. (He also had his own ideas for making some money off the community house: he opened a restaurant inside it, with a warm-weather outdoor dining area, visible above, on the church's terrace.)

Factlet of the day: St. Bart's has the largest organ in NYC!

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