Our History

Born out of the ashes of the Civil War, the Church of the Heavenly Rest has been a vital voice in the New York conversation since 1868, from its original Midtown site to its current landmark building on the Upper East Side facing Central Park.

The Rev. Dr. Robert Shaw Howland — rector of New York City’s Church of the Holy Apostles — and his associate, the Rev. Thomas K. Conrad, led the first services at the Rutgers Female Institute on 42nd St. and 5th Avenue. On May 18, 1868, the church was formally established as the Church of the Heavenly Rest. Construction commenced on a church building at 551 Fifth Avenue, in what was then a residential area. Described in King’s Handbook of New York City (1892) as “one of the fashionable shrines of the city,” Heavenly Rest also won a reputation for benevolence. READ MORE…

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Our Landmark Building

The architectural gem that houses Heavenly Rest is perhaps our most glorious asset. An estimated 15,000 annual visitors (besides those who come for worship or school business) may enter Heavenly Rest to pray, meditate, or simply admire our architecture. Our doors stand open to the public every day. The towering design of the limestone-clad church is Gothic in inspiration, but a strikingly modern interpretation: Its pointed arches echo the energy of skyscraper Manhattan, distinctively informed with a Art Deco aesthetic. READ MORE…


Stained Glass Windows

Thanks to our low-rise neighbors, sunlight still illuminates our glorious stained-glass windows, created in an Art & Crafts style by the famous English glassworks Whitefriars Ltd. Those on the north and south sides of the nave present the principal events of the Christian year; a rose window glows above the reredos, while a tall arched West Window pours in jewel-toned light over the church entrance. READ MORE…


Our Organs

As a congregation that has long valued beautiful music, we are fortunate to have two pipe organs at Heavenly Rest. The Nave Organ at Heavenly Rest is one of the largest in the city, a magnificent 137-rank Austin Organ with over 8000 pipes and a 5-manual console built for us by Guilbault-Therien of Quebec. READ MORE…

Learn more about the chapel organ here.