The Church of the Incarnation has been called, “the St. Patrick’s Cathedral of Washington Heights”. With much pride, Monsignor Delany, Pastor of Incarnation at the time of its' construction, maintained that, “this church would be the “finest” in the Archdiocese”.
Although the parish was established in 1908, construction of the church building was not begun until 1928. Patrick Cardinal Hayes lay the cornerstone on the Feast of Christ the King, October 28, 1928.
The inspiration for the church building was the Church of St. Maclou in Rouen, France. The design was adapted to the setting of Washington Heights by the architect, William H. Jones. The church is built of Dunwoodie granite. The altars of the upper Church are fifteenth century Gothic in design. The main altar is of white Carrara marble. However, the most striking feature of the sanctuary, is the great Gothic baldacchino which towers over the main altar to a height of thirty five feet.
Indeed, Incarnation was built during the depression era which had struck the neighborhood with severity. In the 1930’s, Incarnation, was by no means a wealthy parish. The dedication of the church came on the heels of this great economic crisis, and proved to be a psychological lift for the people of the parish as they shared in their pastor’s enthusiasm for the impressive structure.
On June 1, 1930, his Eminence Cardinal Hayes, returned to Incarnation, for the blessing of the church, he said, “this church makes your heart rebound with joy and gratitude for our faith, for the gift of Almighty God.”
Excerpts from, Incarnation, A Chronicle of Fifty Years, by Msgr. Theodore E. McCarrick