Last Month, OHNY intern Elis Shin joined OHNY staff Jessica Mak and Jailee Rychen on a tour of the North Shore of Staten Island led by local resident Claire Wilson. Their first stop was Christ Church New Brighton, the first Episcopal congregation in Staten Island with the most beautiful stained glass windows in the area.
Christ Church New Brighton today is comprised of three buildings – a late Victorian Gothic church and parish hall, both built in 1904, and a Tudor-style rectory built in 1879 and remodeled in 1909. Established in 1849, Christ Church was the first Episcopal congregation in New Brighton, a village developed in the mid-nineteenth century of mostly large country mansions of prominent New Yorkers.
Architect Isaac Pursell designed Christ Church’s 1904 church, parish hall, and several of the interior furnishing. The church, built almost entirely of granite with the exception of the sacristy, has a cruciform plan, with a square tower at the central crossing.
The minimal ornamentation works to highlight Christ Church’s stained glass windows and create an imposing presence, which has been preserved throughout the years. Much of the original oak pews, choir stalls, and floor mosaic of Pewabic tile can still be found today.
Christ Church takes great pride in its stained glass windows. Original windows date back to 1904, but many new windows were installed between 1919 and the 1950s. Five windows by the Tiffany Studios are the church’s highlights. Of these, the Resurrection at the high altar is especially beautiful. At 10 x 16 feet, this window is made of four layers of plating and several hand-painted elements.
The parish hall, which originally housed a bowling alley in the basement, is now home to Sunday school classrooms, a kitchen, and a basketball court. The bowling alley was part of a community program offered by the church. These programs were born out of the late-nineteenth century Episcopal “social gossip movement,” which was based in the belief that churches should not only provide worship services and social and cultural programs to its parishioners, but should also work to serve the larger community.
The rectory was designed by Henry Congdon and built in 1879. In 1909, it was turned on its foundation to face the church. Additional work was also done to expand and decorate the building. Within church grounds, several 40- and 50- foot oak and maple trees, beautiful mature flowerbeds and shrubbery can be found.
Christ Church is also involved in a number of community outreach programs. Twice a week, it hosts programs with Community Health Action of Staten Island for individuals and families affected by HIV-AIDS. It is also Staten Island Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) distribution site, and a member of the Staten Island Hunger Taskforce, which works with City Harvest to collect and distribute food for those in need.
Christ Church New Brighton will be a participating site for the 2012 OHNY Weekend. It is one of the wonderful gems of Staten Island and is well worth the ferry ride to see. Once you take the ferry over from Manhattan, it is a short bus ride on the S40 or S44 to Richmond Terr & Franklin Ave.
76 Franklin Avenue
Staten Island, New York 10301