St. Mark's Church in the Bowery

Art & Culture | History

Replete with Dutch and American History, this active parish is also a big part of the East Village arts scene.

St Marks in the Bowery Church East Village

About St. Mark's Church in the Bowery

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • It was here in 1660 that Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch Director-General of what was then New Amsterdam, erected a chapel on his farmland.
  • In 1795, his great-grandson Petrus Stuyvesant sold the land to the Episcopal church for $1 with the stipulation that it build a new church on the exact site.  This is the building (with a few changes) that you see today, making it the oldest site of continuous worship in New York City.
  • With a little legal help from Alexander Hamilton, Stuyvesant was able to incorporate St. Mark’s Church as the first Episcopal Parish independent of the powerful Trinity Church.  FYI – If you don’t know Trinity Church, it is one of the largest landowners in NYC with over 14 acres of Manhattan real estate.
  • Starting in the early 20th century, St. Mark’s encouraged fostering spirituality through the arts and became a performance space in addition to its church services.  They began with a dance space which saw famous dancers like Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham perform.
  • St. Mark’s also became active in poetry; Allen Ginsberg led readings with W. H. Auden, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Amy Lowell,  Carl Sandburg, Kahill Gibran, and William Carlos Williams.
  • Poetry then evolved into a performance space where entertainers like Sam Shepard did his first plays. Yoko Ono, Adrienne Rich, John Cage, Alice Walker & Patti Smith also performed at St. Marks and Andy Warhol screened his early films here.

Carpe City Trivia

Why is it called St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery when it isn't on The Bowery?

Well, technically, it is in the Bowery. Bowery is the anglicized version of the Dutch word bouwerij which means farm. St. Mark’s stands on land that was originally part of Peter Stuyvesant’s farm. The actual Bowery road that we know today was the dirt road that led to Stuyvesant’s farm back in the late 1600’s.

What is the Architectural History of The Church

  • The 1795 structure is Georgian-style architecture designed by John McComb Jr. who also designed City Hall, Gracie Mansion (the Mayor’s residence), Castle Clinton and the Montauk Point Lighthouse.
  • In 1828 a wooden Greek revival steeple was added which was designed by architects Martin Euclid Thompson and Ithiel Towne.   In 1836 Thompson redesigned the church interior and replaced the square pillars in the front of the original structure with the slim Egyptian Revival pillars you see today.  In 1838 he designed the wrought and cast iron fence that surrounds the property.
  • FYI about Martin E. Thompson – He was the architect behind the Central Park Arsenal (now part of the Central Park Zoo).  He also designed the Second Branch Bank of the United States, the façade of which has been preserved and moved to the American Wing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  • In 1858 a cast iron Italianate portico was added designed by James Bogardus, an early pioneer of cast iron architecture.
  • In 1978, a fire almost destroyed the church. The restoration was completed in the 80’s and it is now on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Who is Buried at St. Marks Church-in-the-Bowery?

  • Well to start, the Stuyvesant brood. Eighty-five members of the Stuyvesant family are interred here and their tomb was sealed in 1953.
  • Daniel D. Tompkins, Vice President of the U.S. under President James Monroe and former Governor of New York who worked to abolish slavery in New York. Tompkins Square Park in the East Village is named after him.
  • Alexander Turney Stewart, the wealthy department store magnate. At the time of his burial in 1876, he was the third richest man in America. Three weeks after he was buried, his body was stolen and held for a mere $250,000 ransom. It took three years for his wife to get his body back after negotiating the kidnappers down to $20,000 and now he is buried in Garden City, NY at the beautiful Cathedral of the Incarnation and apparently has a spring trap attached to his coffin that will ring all of the church bells if disturbed.
  • Nicholas Fish – Part of the Stuyvesant family who was a Revolutionary War officer, US Senator, NY State Governor and Secretary of State to U.S. Grant.
  • Commodore Matthew Perry who was responsible for opening up Japan to the West. His remains have also since been moved to his birthplace in Newport, RI but his marker remains here.
  • Gideon Lee – Mayor of New York and a United States Representative.
  • Philip Hone – The “Party” Mayor of New York and many many more boldface names of the 19th century.
By: Christi Scofield

New York City Tours

Great Places Near St. Mark's Church in the Bowery

Renwick Triangle Stuyvesant Street East Village
Art & Culture

Renwick Triangle

Architects, Artists, Movies and More all on this Block Designed by Renwick

128 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003
Stuyvesant Street East Village Geography
Art & Culture

Stuyvesant Street

An "Off the Grid" Street Steeped in History

44 Stuyvesant Street, New York, NY 10003
Village East Cinema East Village
Art & Culture

Village East Cinemas

Welcome to one of the most beautiful movie theaters you’ve ever seen, serving up splendor on stage and screen since 1926!

181-189 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame east village
Art & Culture

Yiddish Theater Walk of Fame

Once Upon a Time, the Intersection of Great Theater and Great Pastrami.

205 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003
Stuyvesant Fish House exterior east village
Art & Culture

Stuyvesant Fish House

Landmarked 19th Century Federal Style Home of a Great Leader and Prominent Family

21 Stuyvesant St, New York, NY 10003
Johns 12th street restaurant east village

John's of 12th Street

A Century Old Classic Italian With TV and Mafia Panache

302 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003
Sake Bar decibel east village

Sake Bar Decibel

A Little Slice of Tokyo in a Subterranean Sake Haven

240 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003
Mudspot Coffee Exterior East Village

Mudspot Coffee

From Popular Coffee Food Truck to All Day Brunch Café with Natural Wines and Craft Beers

307 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003
Still House East Village Shopping
Art & Culture

Still House (SHW)

Minimalist and modern jewelry and home accents in a carefully curated boutique

307 E 9th St, New York, NY 10003

More Great Walking Tours


Sign up to our monthly e-mail about the latest and greatest places for food, wine art and history

Skip to content