Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The 1865 Broadway Bible House

The 1865 Broadway Bible House
Last week the ABS, for all intents and purposes, left New York City.

In order to remember this historic New York institution, we have decided to do a few posts on the various places in the city where the ABS was headquartered over the years.  Scroll down to see our entries on 72 Nassau Street and the Astor Place Bible House.  Today we turn to the Bible House at 1865 Broadway.

1966 was a big year for the American Bible Society.  In May, the Society commemorated its 150th year of labor on behalf of the Bible Cause.  It also moved into its fourth Bible House.

After the Society decided to do all of its printing through outside contractors at some point in the early twentieth century, it concluded that the Astor Place Bible House was just too large. So it decided to downside.   Between 1936 and 1966 the ABS occupied a building on Park Avenue and 57th street.

After 30 years on Park Avenue, the ABS moved once again. It left Park Avenue for an impressive new twelve-story structure at 1865 Broadway, just north of Columbus Circle.

In 1963, Everett Smith, the President of the Board of Managers, announced that the ABS headquarters was relocating to the corner of Broadway and West 61st Street in the newly revitalized Lincoln Center area of New York City.  The site had been purchased and plans for a new Bible House were in the works.  Smith explained the move in terms of the rapid growth the ABS had experienced in recent years.  At the time of the purchase of the land, the ABS had 299 employees, but only eighty of them were working at the Park Avenue building. The rest were scattered in four different locations around the city.  The new building would allow all ABS employees to work under one roof.  The 1865 Broadway located provided more room for the Society's ever-expanding library that now included 22,000 copies of the Christian scriptures in over 1000 languages.  It was one of the largest Bible libraries in the Western Hemisphere and attracted scholars from all over the world.

The Board of Managers hoped that the new building would continue to serve as a tourist attraction much in the way that the Astor Place location and Park Avenue building (before it got too crowded) had appealed to visitors to New York City.  1865 Broadway would also have plenty of space for exhibits.

On the afternoon of April 3, 1966--Palm Sunday--the new Bible House was dedicated.

This summer, the ABS is moving out of this building and relocating to Philadelphia.