St. Teresa's Church

Art & Culture | History

Where New York’s Oldest Hand-Wound Clock Tower has been Keeping Time for over 170 Years

St Teresa's Church Lower East Side

About St. Teresa's Church

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • Built in 1843 out of local Manhattan schist, the beautiful ashlar-stone Church of St. Teresa and its tower clock have been keeping time ever since. But it’s not the first religious building to stand on the corner of Henry and Rutgers Streets.
  • The first was Rutgers Church, built in 1798 on a plot of land donated by Colonel Henry Rutgers, the American Revolutionary soldier/ landowner for whom the street and square are named.
    • The Rutgers congregation built the present building in the early 1840s, then promptly moved uptown (Rutgers Church is still an active congregation at 73rd and Broadway).
  • In 1863, The Church of St. Teresa was established in the 1840s building.
    • Irish immigrants made up most of the original congregation.
    • Today, the congregation is as diverse as the LES and holds mass in English, Spanish and Mandarin.

Carpe City Trivia

What is Ashlar Stone?

“Ashlar” means finely cut stone that is worked into a square shape. Each block of stone at St. Teresa was deliberately square-cut.

Where else can you find Manhattan schist?

  • Manhattan schist makes up the bedrock of Manhattan Island. But we’re not suggesting you go tunneling under the concrete.
  • If you want to see a spot that’s full of schist, head to Central Park. Olmstead and Vaux designed the park to highlight the natural contours of the land.
    • That means they left a lot of the natural rock formations visible within the park.
    • Check out any group of picnic-ers perched on a rock in Central Park – those are the mountains of Manhattan – they are all big hunks of schist!

By: Lucie Levine

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