The Gothic revival church, on West 25th Street, caught fire Sunday night, gutting the interior.
was built in 1855 to cater to the wealthy families that lived in the neighborhood. Lavish hotels and apartment buildings were also springing up in the area at the time. Grover Cleveland, William Randolph Hearst, and Sarah Bernhardt rubbed shoulders in the bar of The
Hoffman House, a palatial hotel a few blocks away from
Trinity Chapel that featured a famously scandalous painting of four nude women
frolicking with a faun.
In May 1871, William “Boss” Tweed walked his daughter, Mary Amelia, down the aisle at Trinity Chapel. Her wedding reception, held at the Tweed Mansion on Fifth Avenue, featured lavish gifts from city officials and Gilded Age financiers hoping to get into the good graces of the man who ran New York politics from Tammany Hall. From city comptroller Peter Sweeney, diamond bracelets. From Jim Fisk, an “enormous frosted silver iceberg for serving ice cream.” At the time, The New York Herald’s James Gordon Bennett estimated the gifts were worth an estimated $700,000.
Fourteen years later, in April 1885, Edith Jones married Edward Wharton in the Chapel. It was a “very quiet” ceremony, The New York Times reported in 1885. Three years earlier, Wharton had sparked gossip after breaking off her engagement to Harry Leyden Stevens, the heir to a hotel fortune. At the time, the society rag Town Topics attributed their break to “an alleged preponderance of intellectuality on the part of the intended bride.”
Eventually, as wealthy New Yorkers moved uptown to their new mansions along Fifth Avenue and the Upper East Side, the area around Trinity Chapel grew less glamorous. In 1943, the Episcopalian diocese sold the building to the Serbian Orthodox Church. It was then renamed the Cathedral of Saint Sava.