|Early postcard view of the Church of Saint Jean Baptiste - author's collection|
Among my list of architectural treasures that "don't belong here" is The Church of Saint Jean Baptiste on Lexington Avenue at 75th Street. Built in the Italian Rennaissance style, it looks as though it were snatched off a corner in Rome and deposited, intact, in Manhattan.
The priest threw out a figure from the top of his head. "$300,000.00," he said.
"Build it," answered Ryan.
By the time the new church was completed in 1914, that figure doubled; but what Ryan paid for was stunning by any estimations. Designed by Nicholas Serracino, its limestone exterior is nothing short of monumental. A series of broad steps rise from Lexington Avenue to a pillared porch above which are two colonnaded bell towers. Below the towers are baroque trumpeting angels and topping it all a 172-foot dome completes the elegant Italian feeling.
Ryan would never again have to stand during mass. His new church accomodated 1200 worshippers.
|photo by Andrew Cusack|