church, which serves as an attractive foil to the severe classicism
of the New York Historical Society across 76th Street, was erected
in 1898 as the Church of the Divine Paternity. Designed by William
A. Potter in Perpendicular Gothic style and modelled in part after
Magdalen College at Oxford University in England, it boasts an
altar by Louis Comfort Tiffany and a relief sculpture by Augustus
excellent book, "New York 1900, Metropolitan Architecture
and Urbanism, 1890-1915," (Rizzoli International Publications,
1883, Robert A. M. Stern, Gregory Gilmartin and John Massengale,
describe it as "one of the few buildings to break from Central
Park West's prevailing Classicism."
rather archaeological design in English Gothic, it evaded the
issue of representing the particular beliefs of the denomination.
[Montgomery] Schuyler [a noted architecture critic] described
the church as 'a decent and well-behaved example of Anglican church
architecture, without any marks of personality or individuality
in the architect, any more than with any recognition of the pecularity
of the problem.' Potter's design, particularly in light of his
earlier eclectic work, reflected the significance attached to
the stylistic accuracy in the Composite Era. It stood in sharp
contrast to York & Sawyer's equally correct but Classical
New York Historical Society."
In his fine
book, "Glory in Gotham, Manhattan's Houses of Worship, a
Guide to Their History, Architecture and Legacy," (A City
& Company Guide, 2001), David W. Dunlap observed that "The
Unitarian Universalist Association, formed in 1961, by the consolidation
of the Universalists and the Unitarians, describes itself as a
noncreedal, liberal religion born of Jewish and Christian traditions."
Mr. Dunlap also noted that "Courted by developers in the
1980s for its enormously attractive site, the society instead
formed a neighborhood alliance called SOUL - Save Our Universalist
Landmark - in which the community pledged to raise the money needed
for repairs and maintenance while the church agreed not to exercise
its development rights."