The Church of the Transfiguration

The Church of the Transfiguration

Built in 1849, this historic house of worship is nestled among the high-rise buildings of lower midtown Manhattan. Known as the “Little Church around the Corner,” the building’s beautiful Gothic architecture and picturesque grounds offer a peaceful retreat from the bustling cosmopolitan streets of Fifth and Madison Avenues.

A Holy Cucumber Vine

This Episcopalian church held its first service in a private home in October 1848. The next year the Church of the Transfiguration’s edifice was built on what was then the outskirts of New York City. Under the leadership of the church’s first pastor, Rev'd George Hendric Houghton, the church expanded rapidly in a way that is referred to as “a holy cucumber vine."

A Shelter in the War

Reverend Houghton served as the church’s pastor for 49 years. He is credited with playing an instrumental part in reviving the Catholic faith in America’s Episcopal churches. This church has a rich history of offering refuge for those in need and charity for the poor during the most tumultuous of times. It provided a safe haven for slaves during the Civil War draft riots and was one of the first churches to offer a bread line for the unemployed during the Great Depression.

The Little Church around the Corner

The Church of the Transfiguration was first referred to as the “Little Church around the Corner” in 1870 when actor Joseph Jefferson was facing difficulty in organizing the funeral of his friend, fellow actor George Holland. Rev'd Dr. Lorenzo Sabine would not allow the funeral of an actor at his church, and told Jefferson that "there is a little church around the corner where they do that sort of thing". Jefferson is said to have exclaimed, "God bless the Little Church around the Corner" and that sparked the beginning of a close bond between the Little Church and the theatre community.

This relationship eventually led to the founding of the Episcopal Actors' Guild in 1923. Actor George Arliss was elected as the guild’s first president, and noteworthy actors who have been a part of the guild include Charlton Heston, Peggy Wood, Joan Fontaine and Rex Harrison just to name a few.

The Church of the Transfiguration was named a New York City landmark in 1967 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Getting Married at the Little Church

Couples who choose to tie the knot at the Church of the Transfiguration are in good company. The Little Church has married thousands of people over the years who have sought a Christian marriage. The church was particularly busy during the Second World War- in 1943 it performed 2,900 marriage ceremonies with couples lining up on Saturdays patiently waiting their turn to be joined in holy matrimony.

Visiting the Church of the Transfiguration in New York City

The Little Church is located at One East 29th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues in the Flatiron District of New York City.

Location: One East 29th Street, New York City, New York
Phone: 212-684-6770
Museum Hours: Daily

Click here to visit The Church of the Transfiguration official website.