Church of Saint Paul the Apostle
405 West 59th Street
New York, NY 10019
Opened: January 1885
Architect: Jeremiah O'Rourke
This parish was established in 1858 and assigned to Fr. Isaac Hecker, who was the driving force for construction of a new basilica. The church is 284 feet long, 121 feet wide and rises to 114 feat at the tops of the towers. The exterior is in 13th-century Old Gothic style and interior ornamentation was designed by American artists John LaFarge, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Lumen Winter, Stanford White, and William Laurel Harris. The building is the mother church of the Paulist Fathers, a group of Roman Catholic priests who work as missionaries in the United States and Canada.
The church was the site in 1959 of the funeral for famed jazz singer Billie Holliday. At the turn of the 20th century, the fathers had some notable struggles with vaudeville houses wanting to locate in nearby Columbus Circle.
The slum clearance that created the New York Coliseum, Lincoln Center and the Fordham University in the 1960s also destroyed the neighborhoods that made up the parish that the church served. The church struggled to survive and had to close its school in 1974.
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