A History of Greenpoint in Twenty-Five Buildings: The Union Baptist Church

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One of the oldest buildings in Greenpoint and a landmark is struggling for survival. These days the 160 year-old Union Baptist Chruch at 151 Noble Street is closed and surrounded by a fence. It’s fighting demolition, but it has a champion. Pastor Mike Newberger is fighting to raise the money to save the church and its amazing historic legacy.

The church once had a huge congregation with a thousand children in its Sunday School. The pastor of the church, Minister David Hughes, was a stern man of God who was famous and widely respected in Greenpoint, but it was his son, Charles Evans Hughes (1862-1948), who would become arguably the most important person Greenpoint ever produced. Charles was once a Sunday school teacher in the church and his parents groomed him to be a minister, but fate had a different path for Charles.

Young Hughes revolted and became a lawyer, much to the dismay of his father. Hughes proved to be a legal genius. In the early part of the twentieth century he headed state investigations of the gas and insurance industries, exposing fraud and corruption, which led to state regulation of those industries. He became the hero of New York’s reformers and progressives. He went on to become Governor, Secretary of State, Supreme Court Justice and Republican nominee for president, which he lost to Woodrow Wilson. Later in life he was appointed Supreme Court Chief Justice and amazingly defeated Franklin Roosevelt when FDR tried to amend the Constitution and pack the Supreme Court.

The church is an important landmark and I hope Pastor Mike can save it for future generations of Greenpointers. They should know about the church and the amazing man who once worshipped there.

You can donate to the church at their website.

About Geoff Cobb

Geoffrey Cobb is a brooklyn high school history teacher and writer of the blog historicgreenpoint.wordpress.com. He has lived in Greenpoint for over twenty years and is the author of a history of the area Greenpoint Brooklyn's Forgotten Past.

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