time is frozen in the stone poetry of St. John the Divine

the fire this time: the towers are are forever collapsing up above 116th Street

Each time I head uptown for something going on at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine, almost always with friends who haven't been there before, I look for this capital above one of the massed columns surrounding one of the formal entrances on the West Front. I had come to assume that almost everyone had probably heard about this treasure, and its various companions, but after a look around Google-land just now, I found that they may not be as well known or photographed as I had thought.

Barry and I went up to Harlem once again last week with friends from the East Bay area on the other side of the country. They were former New Yorkers, visiting the city for the first time after an absence of seven years. We had decided we were all interested in a concert of ancient and modern Spanish choral music being offered that afternoon inside the cathedral's crossing.

Naturally while we were there I showed them one of my favorite things, this stone capital, which had been completed well before September 11, 2001. It and several others were carved by workers who were a part of an apprenticeship program proposed in 1978 to serve urban youth but also intended to preserve the stone mason's craft. During its existence one of St. John's own twin towers managed to grow fifty feet (still 100 feet short of the height intended for both). The money ran out in the early 1990's, and both structural and decorative work on the Cathedral was once more discontinued, for the third time in that last, very messy century of ours.

For more images of the stones, and more on the church and its Close, see Tom Fletcher's New York architecture site, or that of the church itself.