Located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church is one of the oldest in New York City – and it houses a rare glimpse of American history within its walls.
The church was built in 1828 by white elites, WABC reported as part of its “Hidden New York” series.
Although the church was consecrated one year after emancipation became law in the state of New York, a gallery was built specifically for slaves to worship away from the company of the mostly white congregation, according to the Official Guide of NYC.
Two slave galleries were located at the top of a narrow, winding staircase. The rooms – located on either side of the organ’s loft — were tiny and hot and placed the slaves out of view.
Infamous politician William “Boss” Tweed once famously hid in the galleries while attending his mother’s funeral as a fugitive from the law.
The rooms still exist today. The congregation – which is now 95 percent black – keeps the rooms as a reminder and a lesson of America’s disturbing past, WABC reported.