New York, NY - The Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in New York City, an architectural treasure listed on the National Register of Historic Places and a New York City landmark, was tragically destroyed by a fire on Sunday, May 1, 2016, on Easter, the holiest day for Eastern Orthodox Christians.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Designed by noted architect Richard Upjohn and begun in 1842, the church was consecrated in 1855 as Trinity Chapel until it was sold to the Serbian community in 1943. Celebrated author Edith Wharton was married in this church, and Nikola Tesla, world-renowned scientist and inventor, was memorialized with a bronze bust, which miraculously sustained no damage. To date, the Orthodox community has spent over $4.5 million dollars to restore and improve the complex, which had continued to serve the needs of its parishioners and community through war and peace, tragedy and joy.
As the Serbian community grieves the loss of their only church in New York City, and the good it has done, the country also mourns the loss of an early 19th century Gothic architectural jewel. We are grateful to God that no one was injured and no lives were lost, where several hours earlier 700 parishioners had gathered for Easter services. We express our deepest gratitude to the members of the FDNY and NYPD, for their prompt and heroic response, which shall be treasured in our hearts and prayers forever. We also thank the Mayor’s office and our neighbors for their compassion. Plans are underway to renew and develop the cathedral complex, so that it will continue to provide sanctuary to the people of New York City, and all people of good will, who are in need of spiritual and material support.
The St. Sava community extends its heartfelt thanks to the church officials and individuals of many denominations, who immediately rushed to our aid with their physical presence, communications, offers of support, and prayers. Despite the destruction that has befallen the St. Sava community, the church will continue religious services at our West 25th Street site as soon as our premises are safe. We deeply appreciate the outpouring of support from the community, including the generous offers from other religious denominations to make their houses of worship available during this time of transition and renewal. Scheduling updates will be provided on our website.
Our Love for all of you was dramatically justified by your presence, and your kind and encouraging words. We are humbled by your love and concern for us in our great hour of need. Your overwhelming offers of moral and material support are helping us to endure our pain, and strengthen our resolve to proceed with our foundational mission of good will and love for all people, everywhere.
Religious services will be held this Sunday, May, 8, 2016, 10:00 AM at Calvary Episcopal Church, 277 Park Avenue South (corner of 21st Street), NYC