Authored by Heather Hartshorn
The parish of St. Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church was established in 1868 on Evergreen Avenue; however, the building quickly became too small for the increasing number of congregants and to inadequacy of the building to provide school accommodations for the children. The new site at the southwest corner of Bushwick Avenue and Jefferson Street was purchased in 1885. Three new buildings were built on the site – church, school, and rectory – and dedicated together in 1892 with a celebration that lasted for several days. Together the three buildings, designed by Theobald Engelhardt and built by Dornbach & Barndis, created a continuous street frontage of 120 feet along Bushwick Avenue. All three buildings were constructed of brick, Nova Scotia sandstone, granite and terra cotta, and the church and school are designed in the Gothic style.
As building committee’s priority and the first structure to be built on the new site, the schoolhouse was completed and the children transferred to it in October 1885. The schoolhouse was built on an 80’x40’ lot to adjoin the church on one side. Built in two parts, the front portion of the schoolhouse was two stories high and used by the church societies, the board of trustees, and the janitor while the rear portion was three stories high with four classrooms on each floor to accommodation a total of 800 pupils. A playground and cellar on the site also served for recreation sites.
Construction on the church and rectory begun in the autumn of 1890, and the cornerstone was laid in April of 1891. The church is 60 feet wide by 102 feet deep and 67 feet high from the ground to the apex of the roof upon which the tower and spire reach 193 feet high. This brick structure was built on a concrete base on solid earth, with a stone and brick foundation, a slate peak roof, and a galvanized iron cornice. The tower includes a clock as well as sixteen bells weighing a total of 24,000 pounds.
With five entrances, one gallery extending around three sides, and seating for 1200 people, the church is softly lit through the stained glass windows which, along with all of the furnishings, were donated by liberal members of the congregation. The stained glass windows depicted ten subjects: Paul and Luther; the Four Evangelists; Jesus, Mary, and Martha; Jesus Blessing the Children; the Good Shepherd; the Nativity; the Crucifixion; the Resurrection; the Ascension; Christ at Emmaus. The pulpit, pews, and woodwork were all made of Richmond cherry, while the baptismal font and altar were carved Carrara marble. Two mural paintings of Moses and John the Baptist adorned the sanctuary walls, and the church housed a great two manual organ, built by Carl Barkhoff of Salem, Oregon with 1589 pipes with a compass of 58 notes.1
The walls of the church were renovated in 1959, and the roof is currently in poor condition and being repaired.2
626 BUSHWICK AVENUE
RER, DOB, maps