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St. Paul’s Chapel, NYC’s longest standing church, celebrates its 250th birthday

The chapel was a place of refuge for relief workers following September 11

Manhattan’s oldest church, and a key place of refuge for relief workers in the weeks following the September 11 attacks, celebrated its 250th birthday on Sunday. St. Paul’s Chapel at 209 Broadway in the Financial District commemorated its milestone anniversary by unveiling a renovated 9/11 Chapel of Remembrance, NBC New York reports.

The chapel is New York City’s longest standing church, and counted George Washington among its attendees. The first president visited the church to pray after he took the oath of office at Federal Hall on Wall Street on April 30, 1789.

The chapel was unscathed by the attacks on the World Trade Center, which stood directly across the street. Its intact condition—all window panes and headstones in the adjoining cemetery went untouched—earned St. Paul’s the nickname “The Little Chapel That Stood,” and also prefaced the chapel’s use a a place of respite for relief workers in the weeks and months following the September 11 attacks.

The pews that once stood in the chapel have since been removed in favor of more flexible seating, but a few pews, showing wear from the boots and heavy equipment of fire fighters and other workers who spent time in the church following September 11, made their way into the Chapel of Remembrance. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum remembers the pews as an “unintended tribute to the Ground Zero workers and the victims.”

Other artifacts in the Chapel of Remembrance include artwork and teddy bears that were distributed among the cots for rescue workers staged in the chapel, and cookware that had been used to make meals for rescue workers and volunteers.