145 West 46th Street, between 6th and 7th avenues, New York, NY
Miller Theatre is pleased to present some of our Early Music concerts in the beautiful Church of St. Mary the Virgin, built in 1868 to satisfy what the Episcopal Church considered a need for a place of worship near Longacre Square, now Times Square. John Jacob Astor donated the original three lots on West 45th Street for the church’s first location.
Musical performance has enjoyed a long and venerated tradition at St. Mary’s, dating back to the church’s first Eucharist celebration, which featured a choir of 40 voices and a small orchestra, in spite of the fledgling church’s limited resources. In 1894, St. Mary’s was rebuilt in the French Gothic tradition on the eight-lot site on which it now stands. To achieve the lofty interior, desired for both spiritual and acoustic resonance, the architectural firm Napoleon LeBrun & Sons employed a new construction method never before tried on a church of this size. Rather than use stonework to support the walls and roof, the church was built around a skeleton of iron beams that would bear the weight but create little bulk; cut stone was used only for the exterior of the church that is visible from the street. Despite the new church’s modern construction, the original marble high altar was moved from the former church to preserve its spiritual legacy.