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Church of the Resurrection

National Register of Historic Places

The Church of the Resurrection was approved to be placed on The National Register of Historic Places in early December 2002.

The Church of the Resurrection was the first established religious organization in Richmond Hill.  The village of Richmond Hill was formed on the western border of Jamaica. On June 25th, 1868, The South Side railroad opened from Brooklyn to Jamaica, opening up the land for development. Keen foresight on the part of Albon Platt Man, a New York lawyer, and Edward Richmond, a noted landscape architect enabled them to purchase the Lefferts farm, in this western area of Jamaica on June 29th, 1868.  Mr. Man then persuaded the railroad company to build a railroad depot on his land.
Missionary zeal made Grace Episcopal Church of Jamaica open a Mission at this newly developed settlement, conducting its first services at the newly constructed depot, on July 25th, 1869 along with a Sunday school. Families seeking the advantages of the new Richmond Hill community helped the town to proper and the congregation began to grew, as well.
By 1870, the depot was deemed too small to accommodate the parish and services were moved to the "Hall", located one block west of the depot.
In 1873 the congregation decided to build a chapel. Mr. Albon Platt Man donated 6 lots of land, commencing at 75 feet south of the southeasterly corner of Central Avenue (85th Avenue) and Market Street (later Church Street and now 118th Street) and running through from Market Street to Lefferts Avenue (now Boulevard) being 75 feet in width in front and rear 200 feet deep.
Architect Henry Dudley was selected, with the cost of erecting the small gothic style wood frame church to be $5,050.00. The contract of constructing the church was given to builder Abraham Van Dien.  Henry Dudley was a prolific English architect situated in New York City with the firm of Diaper and Dudley. Some of Dudley's other noteworthy structures include The Saint James Church (1864) in the Bronx, designated a National Landmark, as well as  the Park-McCollough House (1864-65) in Vermont which is on the National Register of Historic Places to mention a few.
On July 8th, 1874, ground was broken and on July 18th, the cornerstone was laid. The structure completed, the Church of the Resurrection was consecrated on December 17, 1874.
The wood frame shingle style house next to the church on the southern corner, became the Rectory, and was built in 1888 by architect and builder Niles Pederson. In 1897 the firm of Lord Hewlitt and Hull made alterations on the rectory.
In 1904, it was decided to enlarge the building, but wanting to preserve their beloved church, the new addition was built around the old. The old 1874 structure is preserved INSIDE the new one. Long time parishioner and well known architect Nathaniel W. Vickers of the architectural firm Collin and Vickers was hired for the job. The original wood frame church was enclosed by the larger French (Fourteenth Century) Gothic Style facade with a massive stone base and tower. The 1874 cornerstone was preserved and left in its original place which is now in the narthex of the church. A new Corner stone was laid on July 18, 1904.
A new organ was installed in 1921, and a further extension, which added the Parish House was added in 1923. The chancel was extended, enlarging the Church in 1926. 
Apart from its architectural importance, the Church of the Resurrection is rich in history. Jacob Riis, noted urban reformer and photojournalist and author of "How the Other Half Lives" and "The Making of an American" made Richmond Hill his home and the Church of the Resurrection his parish. Jacob Riis was also a close personal friend and advisor to Governor, then President Theodore Roosevelt.
On June 1st, 1900 Governor Theodore Roosevelt attended the wedding of Jacob Riis' daughter, Clara to Doctor William Fiske at the Church of the Resurrection. Governor Roosevelt and the mother of Wm. Fiske, Beverly Fiske were the witnesses. His signature can be found in the Registry book "When Theodore Roosevelt escorted Mrs. Jacob Riis into the Church of the Resurrection that evening, Mr. Roosevelt was cheered when he entered the edifice."
When Elisabeth, Mrs. Jacob Riis, passed away in 1905, the funeral held at the church received worldwide attention. A year later, Mr. Riis commissioned a Memorial triptych of stained glass windows. Created by the Franz Mayer Company of New York and Munich.

Stained Glass Window- Church of the Resurrection
Stained Glass Window from the
Church of the Resurrection

Gleaming with jewel like tones on the north aisle, the central panel depicts Christ as the "Good Shepard", Jacob Riis called Elisabeth his "little lamb."
Next to the Riis Memorial windows and commissioned at the same time are the Flanders-Brown windows donated by Ella J. Flanders in honor of her parents, Judge Joseph R. Flanders and Augusta Flanders, and in honor of James C. Spencer, a noted political reformer and family friend. Ella J. Flanders was noted in Richmond Hill as starting the first free circulating library as well as charter member of The Twentieth Century Club, a group of dedicated Richmond Hill women, who for over a century, made Richmond Hill a better place with their charitable works.
The nave has a seating capacity of approximately four hundred with a central aisle leading to the Chancel and Sanctuary.  Two side aisles lead to the Lady Chapel, which was completed in 1944 and the Baptismal Font. The western doors open into a Narthex containing memorial stained glass windows that depict the Sacraments. The intricate Wood carving in the chancel is done in oak, under the supervision of Alois Lang, brother of Anton Lang of Oberammergau and can no longer be reproduced. There are also chestnut beams found in the ceiling.
Another noteworthy artist masterpiece is found in the southern aisle. An opal glass mosaic Memorial triptych created by the Lamb Studios of New York, depicting the image of Michelangelo's David in the central panel. This mosaic was donated in 1919 by Mr. Provost in memory of his son, Andrew J. Provost who died in France during World War I. This was the intention of the artist that the image of the David depict "the spirit in which the American boys went into the Army- a realization of the strength of the enemy, but that they were unafraid therefore the depiction of David facing Goliath. As the oldest continuously operating stained glass studio in the United States, Lamb Studios offers an excellence in its products garnered and refined through over 140 years of experience. Lamb Studios has a worldwide reputation. More than 7,000 Lamb Studio windows have been restored some in the most important architectural works ever built in this the United States.

Richmond Hill Historian Carl Ballenas and President Nancy Cataldi did the historical research for the Church and architects Ivan Mrakovcic and Barry Lewis were responsible for the architectural review.
Being on the National Register opens up to the recipient eligibility for certain grants to restore and protect the historical structures. There is a special program for churches called "Sacred Sites" and now the Church is eligible for that treasured honor.

On November 2, 1996, the Church of the Resurrection was presented with a bronze plaque by the Queens Historical Society in recognition of the church's historical and architectural merits. The plaque has been permanently affixed at the entrance to the church so that passersby can note the church's importance in the past and future life of the community.
More About the Church of the Resurrection
"First Church erected in Richmond Hill"
Located- 85-09 118th Street, Kew Gardens, NY 11415

Visit the Church of the Resurrection website here.

Thanks to Historian Carl Ballenas and the Staff at the Church of the Resurrection for their research.

This Protestant Episcopal Church was the first church erected in Richmond Hill in 1874 and is still located at same location on 118th Street between Hillside and 85th Aves. The site for the church was given by Albon Man, founder of Richmond Hill. The building cost was about $5,500. A member of Grace Church New York City gave $1,500 and the parishioners of Grace Church, Jamaica subscribed $1,000. The balance of the money was raised by the ladies and children of the community working in various ways.

The Church of the Resurrection, the oldest church in Richmond Hill, began as a mission set up by Grace Church, Jamaica, which in turn had been formed in 1702 with a charter from Queen Anne of England.

Sometime in 1866 or 1867, the Reverend George Cook, assistant minister at Grace Church, began to hold services in the old Long Island Railroad station between Hillside Avenue and Jamaica Avenue. The Richmond Hill Mission, as it came to be known, took root and a chapel was built over a carpenter's shop in the business block. The Richmond Hill chapel remained a mission until 1874 when the Reverend Joshua Kimber moved to Richmond Hill and took charge. On April 27, 1874, a meeting was held in the Public Hall and it was decided to incorporate under the name of Rector, Church Wardens, and Vestrymen, the Church of the Resurrection, at Richmond Hill, in the town of Jamaica, County of Queens, State of New York. Grace Church gave its blessing and one thousand dollars to the new church, which began independence with 21 communicants, 86 baptized persons, and a church school enrollment of 74. Two months later, six lots running from Church Street (118th Street) south of Central Avenue (85th Avenue) to Lefferts Boulevard were donated by Albon P. Man, who was active in the development of Richmond Hill. A small wooden frame church in the Gothic style was completed and dedicated on December 17, 1874. In 1886 a fire damaged the chancel but it was soon rebuilt.

In 1899, the Church of the Resurrection sponsored a mission to accommodate the population of the Brooklyn Manor section of Woodhaven. The mission, now known as St. Matthew's Church, held its first service on January 7, 1900.

The years after World War I were a period of rapid growth in Richmond Hill. This reflected, in part, the completion of the elevated line along Jamaica Avenue into Manhattan. The church, under the leadership of the Reverend Arthur R Cummings, responded to the rapid increase in population and its membership. In quick succession a new organ was installed (1921), the parish house was begun (1923), and the chancel and church were enlarged and extended. With these changes, the church took its present form, an adaptation of the French-Gothic style of the late fourteenth century with a massive stone base and tower.

The post World War II period was a time of growth and prosperity for the parish and the community and there was a large increase in the population due to the construction of apartment buildings. The Church of the Resurrection has taken on many of the aspects of an urban church, at the same time retaining its old atmosphere of neighborliness and friendship.

Among the many articles deposited in the corner stone were the following: Bible and Prayer Book; List of the Wardens and Vestrymen of the Church; List of Richmond Hill Association for Christian Work; Marble Book from Bishop Hobarts monument broken off at the taking down of old Trinity Church, N.Y.; Several Coins: English, Portuguese, Italian, and Belgian; Piece of Mosaic pavement from the Palace of Emperor Tiberius on Palatine Hill, Rome, Italy, (Note- It will be remembered that Tiberius was emperor of Rome at the time of the crucifixion); Piece of Rosso Antico from old Church of St. Peter and Paul; Fuori le Mure, Rome, Italy; Piece of Verde Antique from Church of St. Paul and St. John, Venice, Italy. The Gavel used in laying the corner stone was made of Olive wood from the Mount of Olives.

The Church of the Resurrection is built in an adaptation of the French Gothic style with a granite exterior and a beautiful copper roof. On the right is the bell tower that houses the Rector's and parish offices and Gift Shop.

The nave has a seating capacity of approximately four hundred with a center aisle leading to the Chancel and Sanctuary. The side aisles lead to the Lady Chapel, which was completed in 1944, and the Baptismal Font which was dedicated on Easter Sundays 1900. The side aisles are lined with stained glass windows depicting various events in the life of Christ.

In the north aisle is the Good Shepherd stained glass window, which is the Riis family memorial. Jacob Riis, the famous reporter and urban reformer, and his family were members of this parish. A plaque commemorates the visit of Governor (later to become President) Theodore Roosevelt who attended the wedding of Jacob Riis' daughter, Clara, on June 1, 1900. In the south aisle are to be found the Episcopal Church flag and the American Flag that flew over the church building during World War II. A plaque below the flag is a memorial to men of the church who died while on military service. Also, on the wall of the south transept is the World War I memorial, which is a mosaic of David done in the Tiffany style. The baptismal font is in the front of the church, which is unusual for Episcopal churches. The mural over the baptismal font depicts the baptism of Christ by John the Baptist.

Over the west doors are four stained glass windows depicting the four archangels. The doors open into a Narthex containing memorial stained glass windows that depict the sacraments. Most of the intricate woodcarving in the chancel, done in chestnut that is no longer available, was done under the supervision of Alois Lang, of a famous Austrian family of woodworkers.

The building is rich in symbolism. The theme of the design of the chancel is Resurrection. The central window portrays the Resurrection of Christ in Eucharistic robes. On the Epistle side, the flanking windows portray Elijah and Job. On the Gospel side, they portray St. Peter and St. Thomas. Carvings on the reredos represent the Bible bearing witness to the Resurrection and the threefold offices of "the Christ". Angels of the Resurrection atop the reredos hold slim trumpets to announce the triumphant entry of Christ into heaven.

The theme of the Resurrection is continued in the church grounds. The church is surrounded by the Memorial Garden, which commemorates all those who hoped and believed in Him Who is the Resurrection and the Life.

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