History of the Greek Orthodox Church

Then

Founded in 1892, the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church is one of the oldest Hellenic-American ecclesiastical communities in New York. From its humble beginnings in Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Greenwich Village, where the community celebrated its first liturgy, through a series of moves up Manhattan’s West Side, the community acquired its present landmark facilities from the historic Fourth Presbyterian Church in 1953. The exquisite neo-gothic structure, with its Tiffany windows and renowned Skinner organ has since been enhanced by beautiful icons, brilliant Bohemian crystal chandeliers, and a unique hand-carved iconostasis imported from Greece.

And Now

Today, in its second century of existence, “Evangelismos” remains an ever expanding community. In recent years the church has seen a resurgence of support from the community as more young families have moved into the area and added their support to the faithful support of the Church’s long-time members. Every Sunday, the pews are filled not only with adults, but with the children of our community who come to hear Father Jim Moskovites speak before they go upstairs to Sunday School. Saturday morning is also an important day here as some 24 children, ages 3 to 15, arrive for Greek lessons in one of the four classes we have set up to accommodate our growing numbers.

Activity in other areas has also increased greatly and major renovations have been undertaken to restore the Church to the full glory (and functionality) it had in the past. The parish house has recently undergone a thorough overhaul yielding several new classrooms, a hall for social events (complete with a fully equipped kitchen), and commercial office space which will generate a steady flow of income. Next on the list is renovation work to the Church proper.

Through the development of our spiritual programs and the restoration of our facilities, Annunciation is fulfilling its mission of ministering to the needs of a growing and vibrant community.

Our Church Buildings

Built in 1893-94 for the Fourth Presbyterian Church, the current facilities of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation were designed by the noted architectural firm of Heins & LaFarge and, together with the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, is considered among the firm’s most important works.

Built of limestone and sandstone, the Gothic Revival style church has a rusticated masonry façade trimmed at the portals and large windows with a sparing use of Venetian Gothic and neo-Romanesque Revival details. The focal point of the church buildings is the square bell tower at the corner of 91st Street and West End Avenue with its crenellated parapet embellished with gargoyle gutter-spouts, foliate carvings, and angels’ heads.

The interior of the church contains impressive contributions from both congregations. The original pews and balcony, carved in a Gothic motif, are of highly polished dark stained wood. The ceiling vaults are mildly sloped and consist of plaster panels framed in the same wood. The deeply colored pictorial stained glass windows depicting the Ascension and the Transfiguration on the north and west walls are reputed to be the work of the Tiffany studios. The Sanctuary also contains a 2,500-pipe organ which was installed in the balcony in 1927 by the noted organ maker, Ernest Skinner.

In 1957 the Greek Orthodox congregation added an intricately carved wooden screen with inset panels of gilt icons to separate the Sanctuary from the Nave. In addition, three voluminous, multi-tiered crystal chandeliers were imported from Czechoslovakia for the Church in the 1960’s.

The adjacent two and one-half story Community Hall was originally constructed to house the Sunday School classrooms, committee rooms, the Church Office, and a sexton’s apartment. An Equity-certified, 92-seat, Off-Off Broadway Theater, with dressing rooms and backstage was installed in the basement of the Community Hall in 1980.