103 Washington Street
Current facade 1929-30
Harvey F. Cassab

This former row house turned church embodies the community of immigrants that gave rise to Manhattan’s “Syrian Quarter” in the last two decades of the 19th century and into the early 20th, many of whom were Melkite Greek Catholics from the former Ottoman province of Syria (which included present-day Syria and Lebanon). The parish of St. George was formed in 1889 as America’s first Melkite congregation (Christians who recognized the Pope in Rome but maintained the Byzantine Rite). One of the first services was held in the basement of St. Peter’s Church on Barclay and Church streets, and in 1925 the congregation moved into the former row house at 103 Washington Street (which had been raised from three stories to five when it became a boarding house in 1869). Lebanese-American architect Harvey Cassab designed the striking white terra cotta neo-Gothic style façade completed in 1929. At its height the Syrian Quarter was home to numerous churches, factories,and small businesses that were part of an international network of trade, and several Arabic language newspapers. Landmarked in 2009, St. George’s remains an eloquent reminder of a time when Washington Street was the “Main Street” of Syrian America. St. George's Syrian Melkite Church is a is a NYC Individual Landmark.

Photo by Carl Forster, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.