Seaman’s Church Institute Leaving New York City

Seaman's Church Institute Floating Chapel, New York 1844

After 176 years the Seaman’s Church Institute is leaving New York.    The organization announced that they will be putting its building at 241 Water Street, near South Street Seaport, up for sale next week.  The ministry will shift all operations to its newly renovated center at Port Newark later this month.  Last year we posted about the Floating Chapels of the Seamen’s Church Institute.

The once busy piers on the Hudson River are either gone or converted to parks where children and families play.  The East River docks are a mix of museum and shopping mall.   No ships have called on Manhattan in decades and the Brooklyn piers are largely quiet as well. There are no sailors left in Manhattan so the Church is shifting its operations to focus on where the sailors are.

Seamen’s Institute to Sell Its Building and Leave Manhattan

“We’re actually following exactly what the maritime industry has done,” said the Rev. David Rider, executive director of the institute. “It used to all be very much lodged in Manhattan, from the various shipping companies and bars and whatever else. But that’s all gone. The old guys still cry in their beer about it, but those days are over.”

The institute’s 33,168-square-foot building was designed by James Polshek and built in 1991, using the brick facade of an 18th-century ship chandlery. It provided free legal aid, Internet and phone access, a chapel and maritime training. The building’s six stories have a total of about 4,500 feet of terraces with views of the East River.

But tightened port security after 9/11, a much greater reliance on the Internet and fewer hours on shore for sailors have chipped away at what, 20 years ago, was a crowded hub for seamen from Argentina to Yemen.

These days, visiting sailors are far more likely to go ashore at Port Newark, while the institute’s training and computerized shipping simulators, once in New York, have moved to Kentucky and Houston.

“The punch line is containerization made it possible to move a box in a matter of minutes,” said Mr. Rider, who said the time a ship stays in port had shrunk to 18 hours from five days. “So, these days, the seafarers coming in to see the world, they may not even get off the ship.”

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7 Responses to Seaman’s Church Institute Leaving New York City

  1. pat oliver says:

    i sent 4 sets of caps and scarves in early nov or oct usually i get a note saying thank you or letting me know that the package arrived. i did not get any notification of the move until after i mailed my package and am worried that it did not get there at all ?????? i have been doing this for a number of years. my name is pat oliver 429 hazlett ave wheeling wv 26003 please reply. pat

  2. I would like to starting making scarves and hats but do not have the pattern. Would you please email me the patterns?

    Thank you

  3. Rick says:

    You might wish to contact the Seaman’s Church Institute at

  4. Pingback: The William Main Doerflinger Memorial Sea Shanty Sessions at the Noble Maritime Collection at Snug Harbor : Old Salt Blog – a virtual port of call for all those who love the sea

  5. Lilly powers says:

    I was inquiring about renting out the top floor for an event. A friend got married by you and I wanted some information regarding that, pricing and deals if this has been done before
    Thank you for your time

  6. Rick Spilman says:

    If you are attempting to contact the Seaman’s Church Institute, you should contact them at

  7. Ed says:

    Hi. My ñame is Edgar so i need information to course of Able seamen , how many days it is? $$$ and when is the next course? Contact me email. Thanks