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Judson Memorial Church

About this listing

Church that fosters the arts community

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : Greenwich Village
Institution, What New Yorkers Find Beautiful, Arts and Entertainment, Place of Worship

Place Matters Profile

Written by Gwynneth C. Malin for Place Matters with contributions from the Judson Community
For over a century, Judson Memorial Church has served members of the surrounding Washington Square Park community and those beyond with a committment to social services, social justice activism, and community arts. Through regular Sunday services, arts incubation, and progress social initiatives, Judson finds its most potent realization in its commitment to fighting for LGBTQ and reproductive rights, racial equality, immigration reform, climate advocacy, and community health.

In 1888, Reverend Edward Judson chose this block on the south side of Washington Square Park as the location for the Judson Memorial Church. He believed that this site would be “a strategic position” for the new church because it marked the boundary between wealthy and working-class neighborhoods. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Washington Square area, the Ninth Ward, was referred to as the “American ward,” because of its...

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Julie L. Sloan “John LaFarge and the Judson Memorial Church,” The Magazine Antiques (1998): 300-308.


Joan Jacobs Brumberg. Mission For Life: The Story of the Family of Adoniram Judson, the Dramatic Events of the First American Foreign Mission and the Course of Evangelical Religion in the 19th Century. New York: The Free Press, 1980.

Mindy Cantor. “Washington Arch and the Changing Neighborhood,” Greenwich Village: Culture and Counterculture. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1993).

Primary Sources -- Articles

“Current Events,” The New York Evangelist, October, 30 1890, 8.

“In Adoniram Judson’s Memory: Laying of the Cornerstone of a New Baptist Church,” The New York Times, July 1, 1890, 8.

“The Cornerstone Laid: Peculiar History of the Judson Memorial Church,” The World, July 1, 1890, 1.

“The Weather,” The New York Times, June 30, 1890, 5.

Primary Sources – Archival

Letter from Edward Judson to John D. Rockefeller, October 29, 1909. Rockefeller Foundation Archive, Rockefeller Archive Center, Sleepy Hollow, New York.

Minutes of the Berean Baptist Church, February 1, 1889, Judson Memorial Church Archive, Fales Library and Special Collections, Bobst Library, New York University.

New York University Women’s Residence: The Judson. University Archives, Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, New York University

Supplemental Financial Statement of Our Conditions up to January 1, 1899. Judson Memorial Church Archive, Fales Library and Special Collections, Bobst Library, New York University.

The Cornerstone of the Judson Memorial Baptist Church Edifice. Judson Memorial Church Archive, Fales Library and Special Collections, Bobst Library, New York University.

Additional Sources

Email exchanges with Judson Memorial Church staff and volunteers via Molly Martinez, Senior Administrator, February 13, 2016 and February 16, 2016.

Email exchange with Adjunct Reference Archivist, Emily Chapin, at NYU University Archive, February 25, 2016.

Finding Aid to the Collection. Judson Memorial Church Archive, Fales Library and Special Collections, Bobst Library, New York University.

Judson Memorial Church website. Accessed January 15th, 2016.

On The Web

Judson Memorial Church website


Grace Goodman

Built in 1890 as one of the first "institutional churches" that provided services to its neighborhood as well as to its own congregation, Judson Church in the 1950s-70s became a center for avant-garde arts. It sponsored an art gallery, hosted experimental dancers, and was one of three venues that became "Off Off Broadway," all with the leadership of Associate Minister Al Carmines, who also composed and wrote many musicals produced at the church (some of which later moved to commercial theatres). At the same time, under leadership of Senior Pastor Howard Moody, the church participated in abortion-rights actions (including operating a referral service to doctors who would do abortions for women who wanted abortions before Roe v. Wade), civil rights advocacy, and a ministry to street prostitutes.

In this city where space is at a premium, Judson Memorial Church has made its space available to artists and activists to "do their thing" without censorship and at minimal or no cost. Very few other venues exist that have both the useable space and the willingness to share it in this way.

The building was designed by Stanford White, with 14 large stained-glass windows by John LaFarge -- the largest collection of large LaFarge windows in the world. This architecture and art are simply irreplaceable; they cannot be allowed to change! Over the past 15 years, the church has restored the building to its original glory, while adding an elevator and air-conditioning for modern times, without changing the essential look of the building. (August 2006)

Anna Welch

This building is one of the my favorites in NYC. I marvel at the detail of the stonework on its exterior every time I pass. I think I like it so much because it simultaneously reminds me of beautiful European architecture and the house covered in candy that the witch lured Hansel and Gretel into.

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