An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Church of the Transfiguration, New York

A pioneer Anglo-catholic parish of the Episcopal Church. It was organized in 1849. The founder and first rector was the Rev. George H. Houghton. Confessions were heard there, and it had altar candles and a processional cross, which were rare and controversial for the time. This parish claims to have had the first vested choir in America. The Transfiguration was considered a peculiar place by some people. In 1870 a neighboring rector directed an actor to see the rector of “the little church around the corner” about burial arrangements for another actor since, “they do that sort of thing there.” Since then the Transfiguration has been known as “The Little Church around the Corner.” It was an important station of the underground railway and a refuge for African Americans during the Civil War. In 1863 Houghton brandished a cross to repel white lynch-mobs who were angry over the parish's abolitionist stance. A parishioner who was conspicuous for her involvement in this movement was the mother of President Theodore Roosevelt. The parish is the headquarters of the Episcopal Actors' Guild. It also has the oldest boys' choir in New York City, dating from 1881.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.