|photo by Alice Lum
As more and more Italians arrived through Ellis Island and settled in the neighborhood around the church, its importance grew. Services were conducted in Italian and social work for the mostly poor congregants was conducted from the building.
In 1897 came the news that the city intended to widen Elm Street, a plan that would necessitate the demolition of the Church of San Salvatore, which was by now a branch of the New York Protestant Episcopal City Mission Society.
On May 10, 1897 the church purchased the land at 359 Broome Street where Brooke’s Assembly Rooms stood. Long before the neighborhood had become an Italian enclave, Brooke’s was a gathering place for fashionable society; compared to the then-current Waldorf-Astoria, Delmonico’s restaurant or Sherry’s. Chronicler William Smith Pelletreau noted that the location was “in the very heart of the Italian community and is easily accessible to the Italians in the down town section of the city for many miles around.”
By May of 1901 the Brooke’s had been razed and plans were underway for the new church.
“The building will be in the English late perpendicular Gothic style,” reported The Times, “and the façade will be considerably higher than that of the present structure. A feature will be a large window which will be expected to light almost the whole interior. Quarters will be provided for extensive institutional work similar to that of St. Bartholomew’s, Grace Chapel and other parishes. There will be a gymnasium in the basement.”
|photo Episcopal Diocese of New York Archives
“The services,” he said, “are entirely in the Italian language, the assistant vicar, Rev. Abraham Cincotti, being a native of Italy, and the needs and habits of the people are specially considered in every particular.”
A parish house was connected to the new church from which groups such as the San Salvatore Mutual Aid Society, Girls’ Friendly Society, Boys’ Surplice Choir, sewing and cooking classes, a Bible class and boys clubs were run.
|photo Episcopal Dioces of New York Archives
With time the Little Italy neighborhood changed. Chinatown spread into the streets once populated almost exclusively by Italian and Jewish families. San Salvatore eventually became home to Holy Trinity Ukrainian Church. Over the years the parish house was demolished, the two small stone Gothic towers were lost and the beautiful rose window is sadly damaged.
|San Salvatore today - photo Alice Lum