To Lewis Tappan

c. March 1832


[Extracts from a letter from Finney to Lewis Tappan are transcribed in Tappan's reply, dated New York, 16 March 1832. MS in Finney Papers # 944]

Dear Br Finney

I received your letter yesterday morning, & after Lecture, last evening, Mr Green, Mr Parker & myself held a consultation upon it. We considered each sug-gestion made by you; went into a consideration of the whole subject; this morn-

ing took a Builder, and examined the Theatre, and took a survey of the localities; &

I am now to inform you the results. &endash;

1. "Will not yr expenses for 7 years amount to nearly enoh to build a Chh.

By no means. The ex. of supporting public worship will be no greater here than else where, and the annual rent (2000 dollars) is about the interest of $33,000.

A church, to hold 2000 people, could not be build [sic] (land included) for a less sum. Besides it is much easier to raise 2000 annually than to raise a capital. For

one I am decidedly opposed to putting the funds of the church into expensive

edifices. We must contrive, in this age, to build spiritual temples & make no

heavy investments in brick & mortar.


2. "Is not the location too filthy &c for decent people to go there?"

No. It is more decent than I had apprehended & can be made quite so.

3. "Can the place be made decent inside & out for the worship of God?"

Yes. We see not why it cannot be equal to Masonic Hall, or any other place.

It is now far more so than was the Hall in Thames st. where Mr Parker began. That was in a disreputable street, & the place itself was offensive. Still the faithful preaching of the Gospel brought crowds there, & if the Hall had held 1000 people it would have been filled. This theatre can be made as suitable for public worship as Masonic Hall. The sensation that will be produced by converting the place, with slight alterations, into a church will be very great; and curiosity will be excited, in the city & out of it, to visit a place thus appropriated. I would preserve the form &c of a theatre as much as possible.

page 2

3. (You had two no 3.) "Is it not too near Masonic Hall for the

benefit of both Congregations at the same time?" We think not.

By inspecting a map of this city you will perceive that it is not very

near Masonic Hall not Dr Spring's; but that several streets running

east & south east are near it. The audience at Masonic Hall

will be drawn from the west side of Broadway to a considerable

degree, & from streets very near. In such a city as this, a church

can be filled almost anywhere below Canal street.

4. "Cannot the Bowery Theatre be obtained?" Mr Green & myself have visited that place & had an interview with Henry Astor, the principal owner.

The land on which the theatre stands is mortgaged for 45 thousand dollars & the whole property could not be bought under £80 thousand dollars.

Besides, it is shut up half the time. It has been closed during all

so that it is a less object to suppress this place of dissipation.

the past winter, Ÿ And after all it is not so good a place as

Chatham Theatre. Chatham st. is the greatest thoroughfare in the

city next to Broadway, and the middling class of society, be they

inhabitants or strangers pass & repass thro' this street. By middling

I do not mean the vagabond classes, but the substantial working

interests. …