Madison Square Presbyterian Church, New York City (1854)

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Coordinates: 40°44′30″N 73°59′15″W / 40.74155°N 73.987519°W / 40.74155; -73.987519

Madison Square
Presbyterian Church
Madison Square Presbyterian Church (1854) crop.jpg
General information
Architectural styleGothic Revival architecture
Town or cityNew York City
CountryUnited States
Construction started1853
ClientPresbyterian Church in the United States of America
Technical details
Structural systemmasonry
Design and construction
ArchitectRichard M. Upjohn

Madison Square Presbyterian Church was a Presbyterian church in Manhattan, New York City, located on Madison Square Park at the southeast corner of East 24th Street and Madison Avenue. Construction on the church began in 1853 and was completed in 1854.[1] It was designed by Richard M. Upjohn, the son of noted architect Richard Upjohn, in the Gothic Revival architectural style. The congregation's original building was acquired by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and was demolished in 1909 to make way for the 48-story Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower. In exchange, the church received a 75 feet (23 m) by 150 feet (46 m) plot of land across 24th Street that became the site for Stanford White's Madison Square Presbyterian Church.

The congregation had been founded by William Adams in 1853 and served as the church's pastor until 1873, when he left to take the position as president of the Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York.[2] Funeral services for Adams were held at the church on September 3, 1880, in what was described as "a fitting tribute to a man who was recognized as the most eminent Presbyterian minister in America". His coffin was carried into the sanctuary by eight students from the Union Theological Seminary.[3]

The cornerstone for the church was laid in ceremonies held on July 12, 1853, led by Rev. Adams.[4]

Reports had reached the leaders of the congregation in the 1890s that Metropolitan Life was interested in acquiring the site of the church so that it could consolidate its operations in the block bounded by 23rd Street, 24th Street, Madison Avenue and Park Avenue South (then known as Fourth Avenue). The elders of the church agreed that they did not want to move the congregation further uptown, but would be willing to sell the site if an appropriate location could be found near the existing church. As the years progressed, the church was increasingly affected by the construction of new office space by Metropolitan Life and became more willing to reach a compromise with their corporate neighbor. Representatives of Metropolitan Life contacted the church in May 1902 with an offer to make a lot across 24th Street, on the northeast corner of Madison Avenue, as a replacement for the original site, and an agreement was reached with the insurer later that year in which the company paid the church $325,000 that would be used towards the construction of a new church.[2] Once the new church was completed the old building was demolished and became the site of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company Tower, a 48-story building completed in 1909,[5] which was the world's tallest building for three years, until 1913, when it was surpassed by the Woolworth Building.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Moudry, Roberta. The American skyscraper: cultural histories (2005 ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-62421-3., p.125
  2. ^ a b Parkhurst, Charles Henry. "A brief history of the Madison Square Presbyterian Church and its activities", 1906. Accessed November 17, 2010.
  3. ^ Staff. "FUNERAL OF DR. WILLIAM ADAMS.; SERVICES IN THE CHURCH WHERE HE PREACHED SO LONG--PEOPLE PRESENT", The New York Times, September 4, 1880. Accessed November 17, 2010.
  4. ^ Staff. "Laying of the Corner-stone of Madison-square Presbyterian Church--Address by Rev. Dr. Adams.", The New York Times, July 13, 1853. Accessed November 17, 2010.
  5. ^ Staff. "RAZE PARKHURST CHURCH.; Famous Piece of Architecture Making Way for Office Building.", The New York Times, May 6, 1919. Accessed November 16, 2010.
  6. ^ "Met Life Tower Named A New York Landmark", The New York Times, June 14, 1989. p. B4