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Beyond Stonewall: Lower Manhattan and Greenwich Village LGBTQIA History Walking Tour
Item 7 of 13

Constructed between 1833 and 1834, this is the oldest building constructed for the purpose of providing a space for Roman Catholic congregants to worship in New York. The parish is today known for providing a welcoming place for LGBTQIA Catholics and in 1982, it became one of the first Catholic churches to allow a gay-rights organization to use its sanctuary as a meeting space. From that time to the present, the Gay Officers Action League has met at the Church of St. Joseph.


  • The Church of St. Joseph as it stands today.
  • A view from the inside of the Church of St. Joseph.
  • Charles H. Cochrane, the first openly gay New York police officer.

The Church of St. Joseph is one of the longest standing churches within Manhattan. The church was founded by John Dubois in 1829 and was the sixth parish added to the area. Before the church’s building was constructed, services were held in a hall not far from the church. The building was created by John Doran with construction beginning between 1833 and 1834.

Throughout the church’s longstanding service, the building had many events happen under its roof. The building faced fires during 1855 and 1885 to its interior. The church also had various revisions to its structure in the late 1900s, focusing on its interior as well as its overall structure. Throughout all these events, the church was noted for being involved with social issues, a standout point for the parish and its surrounding area.

The Church is well known for its relation to the LGBTQIA community, notably, its support for the group. It annually holds mass every pride month for those lost to AIDS and the church is open to welcoming queer individuals to their congregation. The church was also the meeting place for the Gay Officers Action League, with the first meeting being held in 1982, in the church’s basement. This cemented the church as one of the first sanctuaries to allow a gay-rights organization to use a church building as a meeting place. This meeting was led by Charles H. Cochrane, who was the first New York police officer to announce his sexuality. Cochrane’s courage to come out was immortalized in 2016 when Sixth Ave. and Washington Place, a street very close to the church, was renamed Charles H. Cochrane Way.

1. Dunlap, David W. A Proper Farewell, Finally, for a Victim of an Anti-Gay Rampage in New York. The New York Times. July 01, 2016. Accessed March 10, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/02/nyregion/a-proper-farewell-finally-for-a-victim-of-an-anti-gay-rampage-in-new-york.html. 

2. History of St. Joseph's Church. St. Joseph's Church. Accessed March 10, 2019. https://stjosephgv.nyc/parish-history.

3. Parascandola, Rocco. "Street-nae honor for gay NYPD pioneer." New York Daily News(New York)June 15, 2016.

4.Photo of Charles H. Cochrane. Queerty. Accessed March 9, 2019. https://www.queerty.com/nypd-officers-seek-to-honor-openly-gay-officer-sgt-charles-h-cochrane-20130918.

5. Photo of the Church of St. Joseph. Wikimedia. Accessed March 9, 2019. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:St._Joseph%27s_Church_in_Greenwich_Village.jpg.

6. Photo of the inside of St. Joseph. Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. Accessed March 9, 2019. https://gvshp.org/blog/2012/03/19/two-churches-with-irish-heritage-in-greenwich-village/.

7. St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church. NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project. Accessed March 10, 2019. https://www.nyclgbtsites.org/site/st-josephs-church/.