New York Architecture Images- Gone / Demolished / Destroyed

Church of the Disciples Madison Avenue Congregational Church


Lawrence B. Valk


Madison Avenue at 45th Street






Masonry, steel framed roof.





Church of the Disciples, New York.
Building Date: 1873. Demolished in 1899.

Madison Avenue Congregational Church
Church of the Disciples

Madison Avenue at 45th Street
New York, N.Y. 10017

The Church of the Disciples was founded in the 1872 by the Rev. Dr. George H. Hepworth. Meeting at first in Steinway Hall, the membership rapidly swelled to 800 and plans were made for a permanent church building. Three lots totaling 125 feet square on the southeast corner of Madison Avenue and 45th Street were purchased for $125,000, and a large church costing $150,000 was built from 1872-73. The congregation provided $100,000 toward their new church, and the remaining debt was mortgaged. Designed by Lawrence B. Valk, the many-towered building could accommodate 3,000 people in its pews, and also included a lecture room. Dr. Hepworth's church—known as the Church of the Disciples—was often compared to Dr. DeWitt Talmage's church—the Brooklyn Tabernacle—as both were designed as immense ampitheatres without galleries. However, unlike the Brooklyn Tabernacle, a wooden frame building with a plastic shingle roof that burned in 1873, the Church of the Disciples was considered fireproof as it had thick masonry walls and a roof clad in iron.

Dr. Hepworth's large congregation included many wealthy and influential people, including Russell Sage and Ullysses S. Grant. However, the church's ability to pay off its debt was severely compromised when the American economy collapsed with the Panic of 1873. This long depression came at the end of a series of economic setbacks: the Black Friday panic of 1869, the Chicago fire of 1871, the outbreak of equine influenza in 1872, and the demonetization of silver in 1873. After struggling for several years, the church ultimately was unable to meet its mortgage payments and the property was foreclosed and sold at auction. With great sadness, Dr. Hepworth resigned in February 1879. The church was reorganized as the Madison Avenue Congregational Church in 1891.

The building was rented and then purchased by the Gospel Tabernacle, the mother church of the Christian and Missionary Alliance, an evangelical body founded by Rev. A. B. Simpson that ministered to the downtrodden. This "faith cure" society stayed only a few years before moving to new facilities on Eighth Avenue just south of 44th Street. The Madison Avenue property was then sold to the Manhattan Athletic Club who razed the church in 1899 and built a new clubhouse.