Born out of a dispute between a Pastor and a Bishop, the beautiful St. Mark’s Methodist Episcopal Church was founded after splitting from Mother A.M.E. Zion Church, and was organized in June 1871 by the Reverend William F. Butler. The society’s first location was Washington Hall on Broadway, between 37th and 38th Streets. In 1873, the congregation moved to 65 West 35th Street, purchasing the former Church of the Resurrection for $50,000. They would remain at this location for sixteen years.
In 1889, the congregation moved to the former All Souls Church at 139 West 48th Street. New growth in the membership caused the congregation to move in 1895 to the former St. John’s Methodist Church at 231 West 53rd Street. During this time St. Mark’s organized new churches in other parts of the city, including Salem Methodist Episcopal Church and Brooks Memorial M.E. Church. By the 1910s, the African-American community had begun to move from midtown to Harlem, and St. Mark’s made plans to follow its members. During the pastorate of Dr. Brooks from 1897-1923, real estate properties were acquired and subsequently sold with the proceeds going toward the $43,000 cost of the current site.
The present church facilities are located on a “island” plot that is bounded by Edgecombe and St. Nicholas Avenues, and 137th and 138th Streets. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on October 22, 1922, for a Gothic-style building designed by Sibley & Fetherston of New York City. With its stone facing and massive square central tower, the edifice harmonizes with the Collegiate Gothic buildings of the City College campus, located up the hill across St. Nicholas Avenue. St. Mark’s building includes a large sanctuary that is very wide with a large curved gallery, and an attached community house. The cornerstone was laid on September 9, 1924, and the completed church was dedicated on December 5, 1926.
The Stephen A. Schwarzman Building from the Photography Collection, Miriam and Ira D. Wallach from the Division of Art, Prints and Photographs (source). Photographed by the Richards-Ward Studio, New York.
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