One of the country’s first charitable institutions, Snug Harbor was a complex of buildings established as a home for “aged, decrepit, and worn-out sailors” by merchant and seafarer Robert Richard Randall. It remains one of the most important groups of Greek Revival buildings in the country, though just two of the interiors are designated landmarks.
Building C, recognized as the oldest surviving work of 19th-century architect Minard Lafever, includes colorful nautical-theme painted decoration by Charles Berry and stained glass windows from the 1880s. In contrast, the Chapel’s only decoration is in the form of wood pews and wainscoting, though ornamentation was added later in the Renaissance Revival style.
Despite their historic and architectural importance, many of the buildings were torn down. Six of the remaining buildings were designated as individual landmarks in 1965, sparking legal challenge by the trustees. To further protect the complex, Mayor John Lindsay organized its purchase by the city for use as a museum, now called Snug Harbor Cultural Center.
Photographs 1–3 by Larry Lederman © All rights reserved