A post of mine from earlier this week gave an overview of my recent visit to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, N.Y. But that National Historic Landmark’s Historic Chapel deserves a post of its own.
This was the first sight that greeted me once I made it through and around the main gate, and it is an equally extraordinary structure. While relatively spare of ornamentation to a specific religious sect inside, in keeping with the cemetery’s non-denominational nature, its Gothic limestone design, stained-glass windows and dome are designed to impress.
It took awhile for the chapel to open—1911, 73 years after the cemetery itself was established. It was designed by an elite architectural firm, Warren and Wetmore, who were also responsible for Grand Central Terminal, the Yale Club and the New York Yacht Club. (One of the firm’s principals, Whitney Warren, was a cousin of the Vanderbilts, so he knew what would astonish the well-heeled who had long clamored to be buried on these grounds.)
Amazingly, for nearly two decades, this architectural gem became a magnificent ruin, falling into disuse and disrepair. After funds were raised to restore it, it reopened in 2001. It now welcomes weddings, parties, film shoots, and other special events. (The day I visited, it was the site of an exhibit on William F. Mangels, the mechanic behind the amusement rides at Coney Island.) According to Green-Wood’s Web site, rental rates for the chapel start at $800 for four hours.