In 1808, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Matthew purchased six lots of land on the east side of St. John’s Cemetery in Greenwich Village to serve as a Lutheran burial ground. Adjacent to but separate from St. John’s, the Lutheran graveyard was at the junction of Carmine and Clarkson Streets, opposite the northern end of Varick Street. The property was roughly triangular, having a frontage of about 100 feet on Carmine Street and 44 feet on Leroy Street.
The Carmine Street cemetery ceased use as a burial ground in 1846. In September 1869, St. Matthew announced plans to remove the remains from the cemetery so that the property could be sold. The removals began on October 1, 1869, and progressed over several weeks. The scene on the first day of the exhumations was described by the New York Herald-Tribune:
By nightfall more than a dozen graves were opened. Large crowds of people gathered around the inclosure and looked curiously through the picket fence toward the groups of workmen inside. Old gentlemen dressed in black stood by the graves superintending the laborers who were digging up the bones of those who were with them half a century ago. Gray-haired men came with coffin-like boxes to receive the remains of their wives and children. One gentleman, after working for an hour, found that the bones he had did not belong to his family. In one place there stood a casket half filled with ribs, blackened silver plates, and tresses of hair, skulls, and shin bones were lying among the decayed coffins, awaiting a second burial.
Remains of an estimated 1,500 individuals were removed from the Carmine Street cemetery and reinterred at the new Lutheran Cemetery (now known as All Faiths Cemetery) that was established in Queens in 1850. The Hudson Park Library and Carmine Street Public Bathhouse (today’s Tony Dapolito Recreation Center) were built on the Carmine Street cemetery site in the early 1900s.
Sources: Dripps’ 1852 Map of the City of New-York extending northward to Fiftieth St; Bromley’s 1911 Atlas of the City of New York Pl. 9; “Removal of Remains from the Carmine-street Lutheran Cemetery,” New York Times Sept 29, 1869; “The Carmine-St. Cemetery Exhumations,” New York Tribune, Oct. 2, 1869 p8; “Exhumation of Human Remains at Carmine-street Cemetery,” New York Times, Oct. 30, 1869.