Seamen’s Church Institute

241 Water Street
James Stewart Polshek

Founded in 1834, the Seamen’s Church Institute established floating churches and then expanded activities to include provisions for sailors, i.e. lodging and entertainment. Although these floating Gothic-style chapels (known as "the doghouse on a raft") no longer exist, the Institute continues to serve thousands of sailors today. There are meeting rooms, offices, classrooms for maritime education and training, as well as Internet access and phones for those who wish to contact loved ones. While the building is a great example of modernist architecture, it also complements the 19th century context of the district. Inspired by 1920s Cubism, the designers integrated nautical history in an abstract way by surmounting the brick-clad site with a structure reminiscent of a ship made of white porcelain, fiberglass and aluminum panels.

Seamen’s Church Institute is located in the New York City and State and National Register of Historic Places South Street Seaport historic districts.