Editor’s Note: This post originally ran in 2013 and has been updated. You can read the previous post here.
I love this chapel. It is a beautiful building, inside and out. Coming up upon the Green-Wood Cemetery Chapel, and seeing it in its full glory, while walking in Green-Wood is always a pleasant surprise.
The chapel is a relatively latecomer to the cemetery, which was established in 1838. The design, by Warren & Wetmore, was completed in 1913. Warren and Wetmore are major architects of the Beaux-Arts period, and are responsible for the designs of Grand Central Station, their masterpiece, as well as the Helmsley Building, smaller works such as Steinway Hall on 57th Street, the New York Yacht Club and the Yale Club. They were extremely well-connected, with an advantage in that the main designer, Whitney Warren, was a Vanderbilt cousin.
Since Green-Wood was New York City’s most prestigious cemetery, THE place to be seen, even dead, it is not too surprising that they would be chosen to build the chapel. Because it was meant to be multifunctional and nondenominational, the interior is a spare but Gothic limestone space which serves to highlight the magnificent stained glass windows and the beautiful dome, further illuminated by a massive chandelier. The design is a reduced copy of Christopher Wren’s Thomas Tower at Christ Church College, Oxford in England.
Between the 1980s and 2000, the chapel was closed for lack of use. It was also in need of repair. Funds were raised, and the chapel was restored in 2001. Today is now available for lectures, concerts, weddings, special functions, and of course, memorial services, funerals and interment ceremonies.
We are fortunate that this beautiful building was not torn down, or allowed to deteriorate past the point of no return. It boggles the mind sometimes, how we as a city don’t see the importance of our historic buildings. But this one now shines, and is enjoyed by all who come into the cemetery.
The entire cemetery is a National Historic Landmark and in 2016 the chapel and the Fort Hamilton Parkway entrance to the cemetery were designated as individual New York City landmarks.
[Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]
- Monumental Conservation: Green-Wood Cemetery Gains a Conservator
- Inside Green-Wood’s Mausoleums
- Green-Wood’s Tragic Guardian