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Former Trinity Chapel, recently an important gathering place for Serbian community in NYC, consumed by fire

Former Trinity Chapel, recently an important gathering place for Serbian community in NYC, consumed by fire

UPDATE: Box of candles started fire NY Daily News reports.


The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, in the Flatiron district, was home to a congregation of more than a thousand, and served as a gathering place for New Yorkers of Serbian descent for decades. A few hours after gathering for the Orthodox Easter service, the building was engulfed in flames, in a 4-alarm fire that required more than 170 firefighters and left the building in ruins.

The national historic landmark site was originally the Trinity Chapel, home to an Episcopal congregation, before it was sold in 1942. It had been built from 1850-55 and was designed by Richard Upjohn, the famous architect. It survived a nearby bomb blast in 1973, after which the shattered stained-glass windows were replaced with Byzantine windows, and had undergone interior renovations to resemble Byzantine style.

Many news outlets have written about the fire, which is being investigated, and only resulted in one minor injury.

New York Times (video, article)

AP Coverage with quotes, social media

ABC News video, article

NBC New York Affiliate


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JC Fisher

Very sad. I hope this congregation rises from the ashes in a way that is also (if differently) liturgically beautiful. [And I also pray for greater Episcopal/Orthodox unity (with holiness and justice): may the rebuilding effort further this.]

Christopher Stephen Jenks, BSG

St. Sava’s has a long and friendly relationship with the Diocese of New York. As just about everybody now knows, St. Sava’s was built by Trinity Church Wall Street as a chapel-of-ease and was named Trinity Chapel (even though it’s larger than Trinity Church itself). More recently a group from St. Sava’s worshiped in St. Saviour’s Chapel at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine at the invitation of Canon West in the 1970s and 1980s. There had been some sort of division in the congregation and the ownership of St. Sava’s Cathedral was in dispute, although I know nothing of the issues involved. Sometime around 1990 the question of ownership was resolved and the congregation that had been worshiping at St. John the Divine returned to their own cathedral.

It seems to me that Trinity Church, which constructed the building in the first place, could be a generous donor to the rebuilding effort, perhaps even giving the lead gift. Given the historic connection and Trinity’s resources, that would be a wonderful way to reinforce the historic ties between them. The diocese doesn’t have much in the way of financial resources, but it could certainly help St. Sava’s find a suitable place to worship until their own cathedral is rebuilt.

Paul Woodrum

“Box of candles started fire.” But how?

Paul Woodrum

A great loss but a wonderful opportunity to build something new that looks beyond the 19th century to the 22nd.


It is my expressed wish that this community rebuilds their Cathedral.Indeed,there are many great artists in N.Y.C. that could donate their time and skill writing icons on the walls of the new building.Perhaps,an philanthropic artists organization or historical society could help this historic cathedral restore by restoring all the churchs stainglass windows!The Cathedral of St.John the Divine must know professionals who would donate their time,energy,and talent to help this community!

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