St. Peter’s Church

St. Peter’s Church
Location: 22 Barclay Street, New York, NY, 10007
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Founded 1786

St. Peter’s Church, as highlighted on its exterior message board, is New York’s oldest Catholic Parish. The exterior of the church looks nothing like a church at all: its Greco-Roman architecture blends in quite well with the surrounding financial district.

St. Peter’s church held its first service in 1786 after the cornerstone for its first building was laid in 1785. The current building was erected in 1836 after the parish recognized that it needed a larger space for its growing congregation. The church has had an overwhelming effect on the surrounding community: it opened the first catholic school in New York State in 1800. Like Trinity Church, St. Peter’s also played a valuable role on September 11th, 2001, serving as a makeshift storage facility for rescue equipment despite a gaping hole in its ceiling and prominent water damage.
During our visit to St. Peter’s, the main part of the church was closed, but the basement chapel was open. Inside there were pews and an alter, several statue monuments of sacred women, prayer candles and portraits around the walls that told the story of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Right outside this church was ground zero. Loud cranes and construction cacophony melded with the slow incense aroma of several churches in the area.

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