Fourth Universalist Society

aka 160 Central Park West, aka 2 West 76th Street, formerly The Church of the Divine Paternity

Fourth Universalist Society,

aka 160 Central Park West

aka 2 West 76th Street

formerly The Church of the Divine Paternity


Date: 1897-98

Type:  Church

Architect:  Potter, William Appleton

Developer/Owner/Builder: The Church of the Divine Paternity

NYC Landmarks Designation:  Historic District

Landmark Designation Report: Central Park West – 76th Street Historic District

National Register Designation: N/A

Primary Style:  Neo-Gothic

Primary Facade:   Limestone

Description (from 1973 Central Park West – 76th Street Historic District Designation Report): The Church of the Divine Paternity, at the southwest corner of Central Park West and West 76th Street, was designed in the neo-Gothic style by William A. Potter, the eminent church architect, and was erected in 1897-98. The architect drew upon late English Gothic sources for his design, as is seen in the striking stained glass window of the main facade which recalls the chancel window of the 14th century Gloucester Cathedral in England. The intricate ogival tracery of the window has the qualities of lightness and clarity characteristic of the Gothic style. An interesting detail is the incised bandcourse at the spring line of the pointed arch of the window, linking it with the corner stepped buttresses which are capped by finials. The great window is enframed by the simple stone gable of the high nave which is surmounted by a cross. The pointed-arch central doorway has a steep gable with delicate ornament and is flanked by pinnacled structures displaying three tiers of niches. This main entrance is flanked by smaller pointed-arch doorways. A projecting bandcourse extends across the facade and around the picturesque, high corner tower.

The pinnacled, four-stage tower of the church dominates the site and recalls the mid-15th century Magdalen College in Oxford, England. Each side of the towerdisplays pointed-arch windows, with drip moldings. The tower is crowned by four tall crocketed pinnacles; they are linked by a high openwork balustrade above a bandcourse of quatrefoils.

The 76th Street side of the Church of the Divine Paternity exhibits many of the same design motifs as the main entrance facade. The large and elegant stained glass window on this side of the church is almost identical to the one on Central Park West, but here a row of ogee arches has been added beneath it. This window is also enframed by a simple stone gable surmounted by across. The side of the church, like the front facade, is flanked by stepped buttresses crowned with finials. Pointed arch windows with drip moldings at the first level are separated from the larger windows above by horizontal bandcourses. A cornerstone at the base of this side of the church has been incised with the dates “1838-1897”, commemorating the founding of the congregation in 1838.

Historic District: Central Park West - West 76th Street HD


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