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St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, A Place That Matters

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St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church at 290 Henry Street in the Lower East Side, nominated by The Rev. Deacon Edgar W. Hopper. St. Augustine’s is a designated NYC landmark (1966).

For the parishioners of St. Augustine’s, 1827 is a year to remember. That’s the year construction began on their church, then known as All Saints Free Church. It’s also the year that New York abolished slavery (though abolition wasn’t complete until 1841). St. Augustine’s is very unusual in its recognition of slavery and freedom as part of the church’s own history and the history of the city. They’re restoring and interpreting box-like balconies in the back of the church as “Slave Galleries” where Black people at St. Augustine’s were forced to sit. They’ve also instituted an Emancipation Day freedom march to commemorate the joyous celebrations that followed upon Governor Tompkins’ declaration of abolition on July 4, 1827.

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St. Augustine’s welcomes visits by request to the Slave Galleries by groups of 8-24 persons from community organizations, public schools, college and university classes, and from historians and preservationists. Once restoration is complete, they expect to open up to the general public. Call for an appointment to The Rev. Deacon Edgar W. Hopper, on-site coordinator, 347-809-5189.

Saturday, July 7th, 11am, join the congregation in their 5th annual celebration of New York State’s Emancipation Day. Gather at the church for a freedom march that leaves at 11 sharp for a walk around the neighborhood with stops at historic sites. A program will follow at the church featuring a keynote address by Ms. Emilyn I. Brown, formerly with the African Burial Ground. (Take the F train to E. Broadway, walk east on East Broadway, turn right at Montgomery St., turn left at Henry St.)