Judson Memorial Church

New York, New York | C.1890

Photo Credit: @brookevalle

For the LGBTQ community in New York City, the 1960s was a time of turbulence and social activism. While notions of free love prevailed among hippie culture, the LGBTQ community still remained heavily marginalized to the shadows of society. By the end of the decade, an unconventional ally had emerged in the city: Judson Memorial Church, a Baptist Church in Washington Square.

Constructed in 1890, the Church designed by Stanford White, the Church was built in the Lombardo-Romanesque style – a style familiar to Italian immigrants and aesthetically appealing to the wealthy. When complete, the Church held worship services, education, and offered healthcare to the community. Despite Judson’s best intentions, the Church found itself in financial difficulty and was turned over to The Baptist City Society.

In 1956, Howard Moody became senior minister and continued the Church’s advocacy efforts for civil rights and free expression. The Church swiftly became a place for progressive change: opening a drug clinic, offering abortion counseling, and creating a ministry for prostitutes. Along with its outreach, the Church was a hub for avant-garde artists, poets, theater, and political gatherings for the lesbian and gay communities.

When “Operation New Broom” – a legislative order to entrap gay men – pervaded the city, the Church served as the site for members to confront the Chief Inspector of Police – eventually leading to the cancellation of the order. Since then, the Church has remained an LGBTQ advocate, providing support during the AIDS crisis and actively participating in the annual Pride March.

Written By: Kelly Murray

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