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Places of Worship

Places of Worship

Throughout history there have been religious edifices that reflect the community’s cultural and ethnic background and traditions. Often members of the same religious background will erect more than one house of worship, to accommodate the congregation members, or to reflect more than one set of beliefs and values. In many cases the group may meet in a non-religious setting, before they have funds to erect a building of their own.

There are two prominent historic churches in the Village: the Community Church and St. Paul’s Church and Rectory, which were constructed in 1924. Both are designated as Village landmarks. The 1920s was an important era in Great Neck, when it experienced its first wave of prosperity, bringing hundreds of upper class residents to the village along with immigrants who worked in the local businesses and on the nearby estates. Upper class residents were concerned that the new immigrants needed spiritual guidance, and so raised money to erect the two churches.

The Community Church

According to the Book of Great Neck, the Community Church was organized in May 1914 as part of a movement based on a “spiritual ideal of Christian cooperation that cuts across former conceptions of denominational expressions of Christianity, which have resulted in over two hundred varieties of Protestant Churches.” The Community Church was open to all, and was intended as a community gathering place. In 1936 there were four bowling alleys in the building open to any group for recreation. In keeping with its original mission to serve the community, this building is currently used by three congregations including the Community Church, the Corner Stone Church of Overseas Chinese Missions, and Temple Isaiah.

Like other religious and civic buildings of this area, both sections of the site strongly reflect the popular Classical style of the 1920s, sporting such features as a full gable pediment at its entrance with a full entablature, a Palladian window over its entrance, an entrance portico with Doric columns, a historic door with full transom window, brick vertical wall pilasters, and a Cupola belfry on the roof. It is very interesting that although the two sections were built almost 25 years apart, their architectural similarity is quite remarkable.

St. Paul’s Church Sanctuary

St. Paul’s Church was formed in 1921, when the Rev. Kirkland Huske of All Saints Church at started a fundraising effort among his wealthy parishioners to build a mission chapel. Among the parishioners pledging money to the chapel fund were Henri Bendel and Walter P. Chrysler, as well as the prosperous Grace, Barstow, and Allen families. Another donor was Walter Wood Parsons, a prominent resident of Great Neck, Wall Street attorney, and All Saints’ vestryman who headed up the Chapel Building Committee. Mann & MacNeille designed both Parsons’ house in Great Neck ca. 1910 and St. Paul’s Church. St. Paul’s design was based on a church in York, England, and a stone from that church was placed in St. Paul’s sanctuary. Bullen Brothers of Great Neck were the builders. St. Paul’s, originally known as All Saints Chapel, was completed in March of 1924 and consecrated on May 20, 1927.

In 1958 the church installed the three tall lancet windows from Whitefriars Stained Glass Studios in Middlesex, England.

Reverend William Grime was installed as the first vicar in 1924 and made rector in 1929 when All Saints Chapel was made an independent church and was renamed St. Paul’s. Rev. Grime served as the rector until he retired in 1958.

The sanctuary is a long, rectangular, horizontally oriented stucco church of eight bays with a traditional gable roofline. The roof is covered in multi-colored, rough-cut slate shingles of varying size and thickness, features of the “distressed” style common in traditional English style country church architecture. The interior is quite simple and unadorned. A series of plaster arches supported by plain piers separates the side aisle from the nave. The chancel is delineated by a lancet arch trimmed in ashlar fieldstone.

Both churches support community non-profit organizations, through office and meeting space, as well as helping people of modest means who need assistance with social services and government programs. It is this tradition that defines the Village as a place of innovation and support for residents of all backgrounds.

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