10 Breathtaking, Historically Significant Churches In Bensonhurst

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Our Lady of Guadalupe

Courtesy of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Brooklyn is often called the City of Churches, thanks to its many majestic and historic houses of worship. Bensonhurst in particular, with its rich history and diverse immigrant communities, boasts numerous vibrant congregations that hold services in some of the most breathtaking parishes in the borough.

Whether you are looking for Easter services, or just love history and beautiful architecture, the churches in our neighborhood offer much to admire. While this is hardly a comprehensive list, we’ve selected a few of our favorites that stand out based on historical significance and architectural uniqueness. As always, feel free to share your favorite places of worship in the comments!

Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church

OurLadyGuadalupe1906Ext-2The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe was founded in 1906. The charming church grew quickly out of the simple wooden building on the corner of 15th Avenue and 72nd street. Over the years, two fires destroyed the building — in 1933 and 1973 — but in both instances, the congregation pulled together to rebuilt the parish even more ornately and beautifully than before.

Here’s a photo of the church’s sanctuary today:

Christmas/Interior of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Christmas/Interior of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church
7201 15th Avenue
(718)236-8300
[email protected]

Our Lady of Grace 

via Google Maps

Our Lady of Grace (Source: Google Maps)

Our Lady Of Grace‘s history can be traced back to a rented storefront on Avenue X, where Rev. James Byrnes celebrated the first Mass in 1935. It’s distinctive church bell is popularly called “Salvatore” for the congregations first pastor:

“Six months later, June 28, 1935, Rev. Salvatore Cafiero was appointed the first pastor with the authority to build a church.  On July 2, 1935, Father Cafiero received permission from Bishop Thomas E. Molloy to dedicate the parish to Our Lady of Grace.

“March 8th, 1936 marks the beginning of an important year.  Ground is broken and construction on the main church begins.”

430 Avenue W
(718) 627-2020

Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church 

08 Baptism

Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church, via their website

071 Sanctuary

Photo courtesy of Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church

Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church has been serving Dyker Heights community since 1900. From its website:

“At a meeting in mid-summer of 1899 in a little school house on the corner of 84th Street and 11th Avenue, it was decided to establish a Parish of the Episcopal Church in the growing community of Dyker Heights. Within months, a building was erected and ready so that on Palm Sunday, 1900, the first service was held. Our present building is the original structure. The Steeple was added in 1907. In this garden like setting, St. Philips became known as ‘The Little Country Church on the Hill.'”

1072 80th Street
(718) 745-2505
[email protected]

Saint Finbar Catholic Church 

Saint Finbar Roman Catholic Church, via Facebook

Saint Finbar Catholic Church, via Facebook

When we think of the dramatic, stylized churches of New York, most of us flash to the many grand, towering spires in Manhattan. However, right here at home in Bath Beach, St. Finbar’s parish is soon to turn 135 and the modern church stands as regal and elegant today as it did when it was first erected in 1912.

Saint Finbar Catholic Church (Photo by Vincent DeMarco)

Saint Finbar Catholic Church (Photo by Vincent DeMarco)

A bit of history:  “The early permanent settlers in the area were Irish. To attend Sunday Mass they had to travel to other communities. As the population, jobs and industries began to grow, the demand for services began to grow and the idea was born for a parish church in Bath Beach. The idea was given birth to by William Swayne. Mr. Swayne offered a piece of his property to Bishop Loughlin as the site and location for a new Catholic Church to be built. Mr. Swayne also told Bishop Loughlin that County Cork in Ireland was his hometown, and since the first Bishop of Cork was Saint Finbarr, he would respectfully ask that the Bishop confer the name of “St. Finbarr” upon the newly built church. In September l880, Bishop Loughlin blessed and dedicated the first St. Finbarr, a small one-room church that faced Railroad Avenue (now Bath Avenue). ”

138 Bay 20th Street
(718) 236-3312, ext 201
[email protected]

The Basilica of Regina Pacis

basilica of regina pacis

Photo by gregsirico

Widely considered the “Mother Church of Italian immigrants” of the diocese, this magnificent church’s 150-foot bell tower casts a protective shadow over Dyker Heights.

In 1948, the congregation of St. Rosalia parish took a vow to build a votive shrine dedicated to the safe return of the soldiers from the battlefields of World War II. Generous parishioners, a saintly monsignor, and a pious mobster all played roles in its construction. Today it is one of the most spectacular houses of worship in New York City, and two diamond crusted crowns attached to it have been been personally blessed by Pope Pius XII. Read more about the history of Regina-Pacis here.

1230 65th Street
(718) 236-0909 

The Shrine Church of Saint Bernadette

Photo via Shrine Church of St. Bernadette/Facebook

Photo via Shrine Church of St. Bernadette/Facebook

Why you should visit: “While our parish of Saint Bernadette has stood on 13th Avenue in Dyker Heights for many years, we have humble beginnings. Our parish was built while the neighborhood was still considered “mission land”, in the times of the horse and buggy. Until the parish construction was complete, the Mass was offered through the Knights of Columbus on 86th Street and later in a storefront on 13th Avenue, across from the current Church building. ”

8201 13th Avenue
(718) 837-3400
[email protected]

Saints Simon & Jude Parish

st. simon and jude

Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

Saint Simon and Jude Church was founded in 1897 to serve Irish and Italian working- and middle-class parishioners. It’s parish school across the street boasts intricate stain glass and marble detailing. Over the years, both the neighborhood and the parish have become increasingly  multi-ethnic and multi-racial, welcoming new immigrants from Russia, Ukraine, China, and Spanish speaking countries.

(718) 375-9600
185 Van Sicklen Street
Pastor/RectorRev. Fred Marano

First Korean Church

via Gravesend Gazette

via Gravesend Gazette

Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean

First Korean Church (Photo by Rachel Silberstein/Bensonhurst Bean)

Over the last century, this charming stone structure at 14 Gravesend Neck Road — located at the former site of the short-lived Gravesend Methodist Episcopal Church — has housed Italian Pentecostal services, and today, the First Korean Church of Brooklyn, a Presbyterian congregation. Joseph Ditta has a nice piece on the history of the church in Gravesend Gazette. 

14 Gravesend Neck Road
(718) 265-2584

New Utrecht Reformed Church

Photo by Bensonhurst Bean

Photo by Bensonhurst Bean

The crown jewel of Bensonhurst, this landmarked country church is made from the same stones as the original New Utrecht Reformed Church, which once stood beside Old New Utrecht Cemetery on 84th Street and 16th Avenue, where many of Brooklyn’s original Dutch settlers are still buried.

Legend has it that in the 1650, the Dutch villagers of New Utrecht decided they needed a church to have services in. The congregation was established in 1677, and the building completed in 1700. The structure served as a field headquarters and hospital for the British during their occupation of Brooklyn and was moved to its current location on 84th Street and 18th Avenue in 1822.

1827 84th Street
(718) 236-0678

Our Lady Of Perpetual Help

Source: acordova/Flickr

Source: acordova/Flickr

Though technically this palatial church sits on the Sunset Park side of the Dyker Heights border, the diversity of its congregants, and its rich architectural detail are very much in line with Bensonhurst/Dyker Heights parishes.

In 1892, a pastor of the Redemptorist Saint Alphonsus Church, Friar Wayrieh, was given permission to establish a mission church in Brooklyn. The church was to be established and a new parish was to be formed. On November 1 of the same year, the Redemptorists purchased a city block between 59th Street and 60th Street between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue for $40,000.

The work was completed in several stages. First there was a wooden church that supported 500 people and cost $10,000, which was completed in 1894. Then, in 1905, the wood church was destroyed and all the services were moved into a nearby school. The construction of the current church structure began in 1907. The members of the parish were very generous with their money and their time and the church was completed after a final push in 1909. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the lower part of today’s church, opened on Easter Sunday, 1909, welcoming more than 6,000 worshipers.

526 59th Street 
(718) 492-9200

[Additional reporting by Benjamin Cohn]

  • Joseph Ditta

    Thanks for the link, guys, but the current structure at 14 Gravesend Neck Road never housed the Gravesend Methodist Episcopal Church. It was in an earlier building on the same site.

  • ROSALIE907

    Our Lady of Grace is my parish and has been for more years than I care to mention. My parents were married there in 1942 and before that they had to go to Saint Simon & Jude. Father Cafiero helped them name me because Rosalind wasn’t a Catholic name (you had to name your child after a Saint at that time) so they settled on Rosalie,which was partly after my maternal Grandfather Enrico). I would have been Richard if I was a male. Weddings, funerals and everything in between we’ve been with OLG. I remember when they dedicated the Grotto in 1954.

  • EndofDaze

    This is an excellent article, especially its’ portraying of the fine current, and historic churches that dot greater Bensonhurst…As a landsman, over the years, I had the opportunity to visit a number of them, and was an attendee at weddings in Regina Pacis and St. Finbar’s, where a couple of dear friends had their weddings…My paisans certainly know how to erect impressive structures, both in and out…What I find lacking and often overlooked, either because of the current ignorance about Bensonhurst’s history, amnesia, or perhaps as a result of the profound demographic changes that have taken place in this seminal community, over the past twenty five years or so, is that there is no mention of the huge, and like their cugine friends, accomplished Jewish community, and their congregations, that helped develop and make Bensonhurst the iconic and stable place it became over the years, especially from its’ beginnings in the early 1920’s through the early 1980’s! ( And I’m not writing about the Black Hats here, who in essence are a rather relatively new occurrence.) The Horwitz’s (Stooges), Merrill’s, Tische’s, Weill’s, Sagan’s, Koufax’s, and many lesser known of the tribe, often made Besnsonhurst their home, and built some lovely temples on Benson Avenue, and off the Eighteenth and Twentieth Avenue thoroughfares…In fact there is a soaring synagogue on Besnon Avenue off Twenty First Avenue ( whose name escapes me now) where the street by it, is now called, Robert Merrill Way, named after the great Met. Opera Baritone, and Yankee Fan, Robert Merrill.