On the corner of West 86th Street and West End Avenue stands a very large church that is looking its age but the church’s mission is very current.
The Church of ST. Paul and St. Andrew was built in 1834
The front has very impressive large wooden doors that are all locked during the week days. There is a door open on 86th Street. Pleasantly surprised, I was greeted by a person at the desk who quickly invited me to see the church.
I like going into NYC churches because they often look the same on the outside but are, mostly, different on the inside. The St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral on 96th stands out with its golden icons and no pews while this church has a unique large Sanctuary(1500 seats), a separate Social Hall and additional intimate spaces.
It seems that the church is well used, This Saturday, a small group was meeting in the small chapel and three people were,in the Sanctuary practicing some music scales,
So, what is hidden ? Located in a back corridor were these beautiful paintings
I asked about them and was told that these were but a few of many placed throughout the building.
Question: “Why were these painted and why are they hanging on the walls?
Answer: they were done by a former parishioner that painted them over many years.
I asked if anyone knew the name of the artist but got only blank responses. One person said, “they have been here for years”.
I will try to update this blog by finding out more about the history as they are beautiful and should, I think, be part of a folk-art collection.
For me, these gems were hidden in plain sight. Each one beautifully composed and painted in bright colors. They were the highlight of my day!
Just a short walk west leads to the Soldiers and Sailors monument and Joan of Arc monument.
How the Church survives
The Church is known for being socially moderate and for being accepting of people of all races, ages, and sexual orientations. The building holds a variety of spaces to rent, ranging in capacity from 25 to 1200 people.