20 November 2012

Edith Wharton Was Unhappy Here

I'm always tickled, as I walk down W. 25th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, that St. Sava's Cathedral still stands. Not that I think of it as St. Sava's. I think of it as Trinity Chapel. Because that is the name of the Gramercy-area church where Edith Wharton, one of my favorite novelists, was (unhappily, as it turned out) married to Edward Robbins Wharton. (Wharton's mother lived across the street, where the wedding breakfast was held.) That betrothal happened in 1885, when the church, built by Richard Upjohn (Trinity Church downtown and Christ Church in Cobble Hill), was already 34 years old. Wharton mentioned the church in her great novel "The Age of Innocence."

There is no statue or plaque or bust in honor of Wharton inside or outside of the church. Instead we get this bust of Nikola Tesla, the inventor. Why? Because Tesla was Serbian. And this is now the St. Sava, a Serbian Cathedral, and has been since 1944. Yugoslavia’s King Peter II regularly attended mass here in the 1940s, shortly after he was exiled. (You won't find much about the church's history on the cathedral's website. However, you will learn a lot about Serbia's contentious history.)

The nearby Parish House was built by Jacob Wrey Mould. A famous figure in 19th-century New York, this is the only building designed by Mould that is still standing in the city. (He was the author of the famous/infamous Church of the Second Unitarian Church of Brooklyn—better known as the Church of the Holy Turtle, owing to its shape—which once stood where Cobble Hill Park now lies.) The Parish House is due to undergo a renovation soon.  

1 comment:

Proud NIMBY said...

St. Sava's is now a Serbian Orthodox Cathedral, now serves the Serbian and Orthodox community of greater NY, who presumably purchased it since the number of Episcopalians have diminished in the neighborhood.

It also serves them as a social center. I attended a showing of a film by Mira Vukomanovic there this spring.

Fortunately there were subtitles.