The Art Deco WWII memorial on an 1830s church

Though it’s been renovated extensively during its 183 years at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Washington Street, St. Joseph’s Church still has Georgian features and Greek Revival touches—two architectural styles that were popular when it was built.

And there’s a third design style on the Sixth Avenue facade of the church: Art Deco.

That’s in the form of a gilded World War II memorial listing the names of hundreds of men and women from the parish who served in the war.

It’s astoundingly beautiful and unusual in this low-rise neck of the Village, and worth a look next time you find yourself in the neighborhood. St. Joseph’s remains the oldest Catholic church edifice in the city.

[Bottom photo: Wikipedia]

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6 Responses to “The Art Deco WWII memorial on an 1830s church”

  1. Zoe Says:

    I’ve passed this Church almost hundreds of times & never noticed this. Thanks for writing about & showing us the many things & stories we pass by everyday without a clue Ephemeral.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    No problem. Thanks Zoe!

  3. Kenny Says:

    That is a gorgeous memorial

  4. Timothy Grier Says:

    I was a student at Saint Joseph’s Academy on Washington Square North in the fifties and sixties and this church was where we celebrated our sacraments like Holy Communion and Confirmation. My cub scout troop also met in the church basement.

  5. Audrey Burtrum-Stanley Says:

    The tragedy of this memorial is it’s size. It need not balance with the plaque on the church’s opposite front-wall, but rather it’s size was dictated by the amount of room required for the vast number of
    names it needed to display / to honor. Therefore, THIS is a
    magnificent piece.

    Living in the middle of the nation and seeing the front of a church literally ‘fenced off’ from the public seems shocking! There may be panhandlers who sit on the steps or snooze under the porch’s roofline on a rainy Saturday evening & still be in place come Sunday morning — but isn’t a church supposed to be a ‘welcoming comfort to all sinners?’

    Their sidewalk landscaping needs to be replaced with a smaller species as the area reserved for the trunk, roots and moisture is not very accomodating for this particular type of tree. A few more years of growth and the tree may lift the cement slabs of the walk and cause problems with underground utilities. Since the symmetry of the landscaping, (with the existing tree,) is akimbo, perhaps a smaller tree with a multi-trunk or a slender, mature form would be a better choice.

    If an evergreen was planted there, it could serve as a Christmas tree for the church and the neighborhood.

    As for the current tree, the top has been broken. Someone from the congregation should have cared enough to contact the NYC arborist to report the tree and it’s needs.

    If the tree remains in place, a well tutored individual from the congregation or the neighborhood could trim / shape the crown-spread. This action would help enhance the setting for the church, making it all the more attractive. This action will also assure the tree will be ‘better balanced’ during wind storms, heavy snows, etc… so more branches will not be broken in the future.
    *Past-President of the Arkansas Urban Forestry Council

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