“The Little Church Around the Corner” – Manhattan (1910)

The Church of the Transfiguration was founded as an Anglo-Catholic parish of the Episcopal Church in 1849.

Built in a Early English Neo-Gothic Style, the church sits behind a beautiful garden which continues to provide an oasis of natural beauty on West 29th Street in Manhattan.

While the Anglo-Catholic tradition is usually associated with ceremonial and liturgical practices, the core of doctrine is a recovery of the Church’s service to the poor and marginalized.

During the New York City Draft Riots in 1863, the first Rector, George Handic Houghton, filled the sanctuary, school, library, and vestry, with African-Americans who were under attack.

When the Church was besieged by rioters, the Rector dispersed them with a fiery condemnation, “You white devils, do you know nothing of the spirit of Christ?”

The parish became known as the “Little Church around the Corner” in 1870 when the rector of the Church of the Atonement (no longer existing) declined to conduct a funeral for the actor, George Holland.

The rector told Joseph Jefferson, the friend of the deceased actor, “I believe there is a little church around the corner where they do that sort of thing.”

Jefferson replied, “If that be so, God bless the little church around the corner!”

The Episcopal Actors Guild (which included Basil Rathbone, Tallulah Bankhead, Peggy Wood, Joan Fontaine, Rex Harrison, and Carlton Heston, among others) is still associated with this parish.

In October of 1910, Wilson Wood of Greenville Texas received a postcard photograph of this church.

(Greenville is a city about 50 miles northeast of Dallas.  The city was notable in forming a company of Texas soldiers to support the Union in the Civil War.)

The postcard was sent by a friend in the postcard club, William B. Fersch, of New York City.

On the reverse, William asks for a colored postcard photograph of the Post Office in Greenville.

He adds a list of all the state capital buildings which he can send to Wilson.

The postcard was published by Valentine & Sons Publishing Company.

This postcard image does not do justice to the beauty of the site – which retains its loveliness although the surrounding buildings are much taller than they are in this photograph.

On-line, one can find a history of the Church (containing anecdotes about P. G. Wodehouse who worshipped there) and other photographs.


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