St. Augustine’s Slave Galleries

St. Augustine’s Church, originally All Saints’, was long aware of the historical significance of its original “slave galleries,” noted on the Historic American Buildings Survey’s drawings of 1934. Although the National Register listed church was completed in 1828, subsequent to legislation ending slavery in New York State, the physical space of the galleries indicated segregated areas. Small rooms with simple stepped seating are reached by narrow winding stairs above the church’s balcony. Church members decided to preserve the rooms and use them to teach about slavery and religion in New York City.

Li/Saltzman Architects undertook a Feasibility Study for the adaptive-use of the Galleries as a museum. The first phase of work included the restoration of the original finishes of the steps and walls, and the installation of safety features to allow public access to the West Gallery. The project received two grants from the 1772 Foundation, and now provides a glimpse into a relatively unknown corner of New York City’s history.

Press: National Trust for Historic Preservation