St. Paul's Chapel and Churchyard (Trinity)


Saint Paul's Chapel is the oldest church in Manhattan and is thought to be the oldest building in Manhattan. It is also the tallest public building in continuous use and the only remaining colonial church. Inside can be found the first rendition in oil paint of the Great Seal of the United States. It is one of the nation's finest examples of Late Georgian church architecture. Its worshippers included George Washington.

Established, Dec 14, 1704

With gravestones dating to 1704, the cemetery at St. Paul's Church National Historic Site is one of the oldest, continuously used burial yards in the nation.

Constructed, 1766

Initially opened as an outreach chapel of Trinity Church to better serve its expanding congregation. A decade later, the Great Fire of 1776 destroyed the first Trinity Church, but St. Paul’s survived, thanks to a bucket brigade dousing the building with water.Until the second Trinity Church was rebuilt in 1790, many, including George Washington, made St. Paul’s their church home. Over the next two centuries, the ministries of St. Paul’s expanded along with the city. Community outreach was a primary focus, with services to accommodate the needs of immigrants, working women, and the homeless.

Renovation, 2016

Rather than restore the landscapes to a specific period in time, the church leadership agreed that these sacred spaces must reflect the evolution of time and its significance to the community. The designs restore unobstructed views of the gravestones while protecting the base of mature trees from foot traffic. Low-scale circular beds around major trees form subtle landscape accents within the lines of gravestones. Additional improvements include soil amendments and new turf, replacement of damaged brownstone pavement, installation of bluestone check dams and runnels to solve erosion and compaction problems, and the removal of post-9/11 signage remnants. Extensive landscaping, steeple repair, the installation of air conditioning, and the installation of a production room to facilitate webcasting. 


Sept 11, 2001-St. Paul’s Chapel, suffered no physical damage in the attack, even though the exterior of St. Paul’s and its churchyard were covered in debris.

Related Sites
1st Presidential Inauguration- On April 30, 1789, after Washington took the oath of office to become the first President of the United States, he made his way from Federal Hall on Wall Street to St. Paul’s Chapel, where he attended services.
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