All Saints Church has a rich history. Its origins lie in the Free Chapel founded by St. Thomas Church on May 2, 1858, in downtown Manhattan. When St. Thomas Church prepared to move uptown ten years later to its present site on Fifth Avenue and 53rd, the little chapel moved to a midtown location, and finally on October 4, 1872, to its current site. Bishop Horatio Potter laid the cornerstone of this third St. Thomas Chapel, as it was then known. Vestry member George Kemp donated $15,000 toward the purchase of three lots on 60th Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues on which the church is currently located. The chapel was later torn down, and in 1894 a new one constructed and consecrated by Bishop Henry Codman Potter. In 1921, adjacent property at 234 East 60th Street was bought, to become the vicarage and now the rectory, home of the rector.
It was not until the 1960’s that the parish secured its independence, and its new name of All Saints Church was first used at Easter, 1963. The legal transfer of independence came on April 14, 1965, when deeds to the properties of the 60th St. church were transferred. On May 11, 1965, All Saints Church was admitted into the Diocese of New York at its annual convention.
In the course of its history, the neighborhood surrounding All Saints has evolved from farmland to industrial to urban residential, and a changing population surrounds the church, business and industry embedded in the area’s residential nature. Throughout the dimensions of growth and transformation, All Saints has remained a steadfast presence in the neighborhood, a place of worship and service to God. Music has been and continues to be a centerpiece of worship here, and outreach to the poor is a priority of the community.
A fascinating book describing the fullness of All Saints’ history up to 1972, from which this short summary was gleaned, is available for viewing in the parish office. It’s entitled All Saints Church: A Century of Service in New York City.