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History & Architecture


For over 170 years Saint Luke’s has been dedicated to worship, learning, community, and service. The church was founded in 1850 to serve the German immigrant community on New York’s West Side. The tiny congregation struggled during their early years, but when German immigration resumed after the Civil War, they grew tremendously. For these immigrants, Saint Luke’s was not only a worship space but also a community center where members could socialize while receiving help integrating into their new surroundings. Reaching beyond its neighborhood, the congregation also generously supported Lutheran social welfare and educational institutions in the area.

Saint Luke’s moved to its current location in Hell’s Kitchen in 1923. Over the next 100 years, it transformed into to a diverse congregation in which people of all ethnic, cultural, and socioeconomic backgrounds worshiped together. The congregation became known for its urban ministry, working to address the complex spiritual, material, and social needs of its equally diverse neighborhood.


The Walcker Organ, manufactured in Kleinbittersdorf, Germany, was dedicated in 1990. Planning for the instrument began in 1986 and faced a number of challenges. Although space was limited, the instrument had to be positioned in the chancel where it would support the singing of clergy, musicians, and the congregation. The Walker organ is a two manual and pedal organ with mechanical key and stop action. The organ consists of 18 independent stops and four transmissions distributed through the two manuals and pedals. The Hauptwerk is designed around an 8′ Principal plenum. An 8′ Trumpet is intended primarily as a chorus reed. The Schwellwerk functions as an accompanying manual for anthems. The Pedal consists of two independent stops, a 16′ Subbass and a 16′. The casework is of solid oak and the entire instrument is encased. The result is an instrument ideal for sung worship.


The beautiful sanctuary was designed by the architectural firm of Tilton & Githens. For the sake of durability, the entire structure was to be built of stone, brick, and cement, making a fire-proof building. The attached five story parish house was designed to include plentiful community facilities, including meeting rooms, two bowling alleys, a billiard room, a gymnasium, dressing rooms and showers. The top floor of the parish house was reserved for a parsonage apartment. The cornerstone was laid on October 10, 1922 and the sanctuary was first used on September 16, 1923.

Take a look at our Architecture Brochure.