The Church of the Holy Innocents was established in 1866 when the area around 37th Street and Broadway was semi-rural. The present edifice was completed in 1870 using the Gothic Revival style of architecture. The first pastor had the foresight to engage the prominent artist Constantino Brumidi, to create a monumental fresco over the main altar. Soon after Brumidi was commissioned to decorate the Great Rotunda of the U. S. Capitol Building with magnificent frescoes.
In the early years cows roamed the streets and open pastures around Holy Innocents. As the city rapidly expanded northward the community, known as the "Tenderloin", teemed with immigrants from Europe. By the early 1900's the area was known for newspaper publishing (The Herald) and theaters (The Metropolitan Opera House). Holy Innocents was called the "actor's church". Eugene O'Neill, the playwright, was baptized in the church in 1888.
By 1910, the area went through a profound change as the tenements were rapidly replaced by imposing commercial buildings. By the 1920's hundreds of thousands of workers earned their living in what became known as the Garment Center. Longacre Square changed its name to Times Square and Herald Square became synonymous with shopping. Meanwhile, Holy Innocents became spiritual oasis for vast number of people who went to work in the offices, factories and showrooms in the buildings that towered above. Not only did the church continue to offer spiritual direction but it also assisted people to rise to better economic and social circumstances.
Today the church is the oldest building in the Fashion Center. Yet, it is youthful in its enthusiasm for meeting the challenges of ever changing environment - new people, new technologies, new ideas. The church enjoys a vibrant spiritual life and is considered a "second home" to thousands of workers and visitors who find comfort and support here. Through the presentation of fine music and art, the church uplifts the human spirit, helping people to reset goals and standards to ever-higher levels. Spiritual growth, social services programs, and self-improvement opportunities are part of fabric from which Holy Innocents is made.