Cathedral of the Incarnation

Garden City, Long Island, New York, USA

The Cathedral of the Incarnation is the Episcopal cathedral in Garden City, Long Island, NY. The building was designed by English-born architect, Henry Harrison (1813-1895) and built in 1876 to the memory of Alexander Turney Stewart and, as such, is the only cathedral in the USA funded by a single person.

The result is one of the most striking Gothic Revival churches in the region, noted for its 200ft spire, its stained-glass windows and, above all for its music ministry (since 2000, led by Canon Larry Tremsky) which has a long choral tradition -  anecdotal history claims that the reason for the close proximity of nearby railway station was to facilitate the transport of choristers from their homes in Brooklyn or Manhattan. Larry had, in fact, first contacted us in in 2005, having seen what we had designed for the Music Library and Song School at Bristol Cathedral (completed in 2001), to which he had recently paid a visit, and where he had admired how much the designs had improved the management of both the music and the running of choir rehearsals.



Since 2015, the cathedral community has been led by the Dean, the Very Rev. Dr Michael Sniffen, and is now assisted by the Sub-Dean, Rev Canon Eddie Alleyne, Rev Canon Adam Bucko and Rev Deacon Denise Galloway (Director of Outreach).

The design brief was to replace the static Gothic pews with dynamic flexible furniture to allow for worship in a variety of ways – one of many such schemes with which we’ve been involved (see Stacking pews, also  Sheffield Cathedral and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah). A number of scenarios evolved for improving the liturgical options, incorporating a group of 76 Charterhouse stacking pews and 260 'Coventry' chairs (see also Valparaiso Chapel of the Resurrection), stained to blend in with the existing interior. Accompanying all these were the chair and pew dollies to assist the handling and storage of the furniture.

From initial conversations in January 2019 (and an admirably clear brief from the Dean), a variety of options for floor plans evolved. Although orders were placed in September 2019, no one expected the eruption of the COVID epidemic a few months later, so the final installation was delayed until June 2020 and this prompted a new look at those same plans in order to explore the options for making the building still usable while accommodating social distancing. The results turned out to demonstrate an added benefit of using the new stacking pews since families could now sit on their own pew, albeit suitably separated but still all snuggled up together. 


'Thanks to you and the whole Luke Hughes and Company team for a superb job. It has been a real pleasure doing business with you ... we are absolutely delighted with the result '

Kyle Sabo, Verger


In November 2022, when visits were possible again, it was a great pleasure for Luke Hughes to finally meet the clergy team and the indefatigable verger, Kyle Sabo, and to begin to discuss new choir furniture, the origins of which Larry had envisaged 18 years earlier. 

‘The stacking pews achieve a spectacular understatement and show us a different building. Can’t wait to see more. And thanks so much to Alison Bregstein for such precise arrangements…’

The Very Rev. Dr Michael T. Sniffen, Dean






Photos: courtesy of Matthew Pritchard and Luke Hughes

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