St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church in East Harlem to Participate in City-wide Open House.

On Sunday, May 20, from 1 to 3 PM, , St. Cecilia’s Church in East Harlem will join with hundreds of other historic churches and synagogues to participate in The New York Landmark Conversancy’s Second Sacred Sites Open House Weekend.

One of East Harlem’s oldest and architecturally notable churches, the building was completed in 1887 to the design of Napoleon Le Brun & Sons whose work included the famed New York’s Metropolitan Life Insurance tower overlooking Madison Square and Engine 53 firehouse at 175 East 104th Street, recently restored as a media center.

Designed in the Romanesque Revival style, the symmetrical structure of red brick and terra cotta dominates the block of East 106th Street between Lexington and Park Avenues. A handsome portico with three arches forms the entrance. In the central gable is a rich relief terra-cotta panel depicting Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music, playing an organ, a fitting image for a neighborhood known for incubating the Salsa sound and such musical legends at Tito Puente.

The interior of the church takes the form of a large basilica with a semicircular apse at the end flanked by side alters. An impressive marble alter with baldachino (canopy) is surrounded by murals with the original stained-glass windows above. The vaulted ceiling is supported by cast-iron columns. A double row of soaring, ornate stained-glass windows adorns the side walls.

St. Cecilia’s history bears testament to the New York immigrant experience. As each wave of new arrivals settled upper Manhattan — Irish, Italian, black and Hispanic — the church provided a haven and spiritual anchor. At the height of the Puerto Rican migration, St Cecilia’s operated the largest parochial school in the country. Known today as el corazon del Barrio, the church is a treasured landmark and community resource of East Harlem’s Latino historical district.

Its adjacent convent houses the Cristo Rey High School. To the east, the Julia De Burgos Latino Cultural Center completes this historical block of East Harlem’s Cultural Corridor (106th Street).

Assisted by grants from the Landmarks Conservancy and others, St. Cecilia’s Church has embarked on a major restoration campaign to preserve this cherished landmark well into the 21st century.

Since 1986, The New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites program has supported more than 675 religious institutions throughout the state. Sacred Sites is the country’s oldest and largest statewide grant program to help landmark religious properties. Some 200 New York City congregations have received $2.9 million in NYLC grants. Sacred Sites grants have mobilized more than $530 million in restoration and repair projects statewide.

For additional information on the Sacred Sites Open House Weekend, contact Ann Friedman, Director, and Sacred Sites at the New York Landmarks Conservancy at 212-995-5260.

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The Parish Community of Saint Cecilia

Church 120 East 106th St.
Parish 125 East 105th St.
Zip Code New York, NY 10029
Phone 212.534.1350
Emailinfo@saintceciliaparishnyc.org