St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is one of the most famous and important architectural landmarks in New York City. Its origins date back to 1660 when Peter Stuyvesant, the Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Netherlands, built the first chapel on the site. Though the structure he designed is long gone, his remains still lie in a sealed vault at St. Mark’s.
In 1795, the cornerstone of present-day St. Mark’s was laid. Alexander Hamilton helped with the legal process of incorporating St. Mark’s as an independent Episcopal parish. Over the course of the 19th century, St. Mark’s grew in stature and prominence. It was the spiritual home to many notable families, including New York City mayors Philip Hone and Gideon Lee, New York State Attorney General Thomas Addis Emmet, Commodore Matthew C. Perry, and New York State Governor (and later Vice President of the United States) Daniel D. Tompkins. They, and many other notables, were buried in the church’s graveyard.
In 1828, a Greek Revival steeple was added to the building. In 1835, a fieldstone Parish Hall was built, and in 1836 the Sanctuary was renovated, replacing the square pillars with slender Egyptian Revival pillars. In 1838, the entire property was enclosed with a cast- and wrought-iron fence. In 1856, an Italianate cast-iron portico was added, and in 1861 a brick addition to the building was constructed. The church’s beautiful stained glass windows were installed on the first floor in 1903 and in the balcony in the early to mid-1980s. And the altarpiece of the Annunciation in the Parish Hall, a reproduction of the original created c. 1475 by Andrea della Robbia, was a gift to St. Mark’s in 1913.
Today the St. Mark’s Rectory houses the Neighborhood Preservation Center, a project of the St. Mark’s Historic Landmark Fund, and its resident partners, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and the Historic Districts Council.