(Below) CHURCH HOUSE ACTIVITIES (1907 -1920)


On the evening of October 28, 1907, in the presence of more than twelve hundred people in the audience, what was known as the Church House in the Bronx was opened.

The evening included a musical program sung by volunteer choirs from numerous churches and other appropriate ceremonies.

As Bishop David H. Greer announced that night, it is not a church, but is to be an auxiliary to the church.

The need for such a building developed as Episcopal parishioners from the Eastside of Manhattan moved up to the country, in the Bronx. Their churches in the Bronx were not as large or as well equipped as what they were used to, and they needed a place to congregate. They also wanted a wholesome place for their young people, to offset the draw of "dangerous dance halls".

It was through this need that money was raised for a building. Parishioners such as J. P. Morgan and Mr. W. K. Vanderbilt were contributors.

The property was purchased from Abraham Siegel and wife by Bishop David H Greer, Coadjutor of the Diocese of New York. There were three lots, #30, #3 1, and #32 as shown on the maps of the Bathgate Estate.

The Bathgate family owned a good deal of the area in the late eighteen hundreds including what became Crotona Park. The cornerstone was laid on June 9, 1906 at the southwest corner of Crotona Park, and was accompanied with an impressive ceremony attended by numerous clergy and choirs and congregations of neighboring churches.

The cornerstone had a number of documents laid into it for posterity. These items included: Copy of Holy Scriptures, copy of the Prayer Book, copies of The Bronx Record, New York Times, NewYork Sun, New York Herald and New York Tribune, among others. Another item included was an appeal for the churches in San Francisco which suffered from earthquake on April 18th, 1906. In addition it included a statement from the architects, Messrs. Bosworth and Holden. Apparently excavations for the foundation were begun on the 21th day of February, 1906.

The Church House served the people of the Bronx from 1907 until 1920. During that period the building was used to assemble people for recreation of all sorts, gymnastics, dancing, games, and theatricals. There were theatrical performances when a thousand or more were in the audience. The building was "humming with activity" all week long. Some of the most noted athletes of the country were trained in the Bronx Church House, and some of the finest women then engaged in social and welfare work were inspired in this building.

On December 6, 1911, 300 civic groups from the Bronx were represented at the Bronx Church House to discuss a proposal for the creation of Bronx County. In 1912 the State Legislative established the county of the Bronx as the 62 nd county in the state, to become effective January 1, 1914.

Slowly, however, the demographics of the neighborhood changed. Jewish immigrants were moving into the area and obviously the need for an Episcopal Church House lessened. The building was sold in 1920, the Diocese listing the following as reason for the sale:

  1. The endowment was inadequate and failed to meet current expenses.
  2. The Church House was being surrounded by "a belt of Hebrew population, increasing annually in depth." It was no longer conveniently located for those who might use it.
  3. The recent erection of a fully equipped YMCA building on a site only a mile distant from the Church House.
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