St. Ann’s Church has been serving God and the South Bronx community for 177 years. The church was built in 1841 by the son of Gouverneur Morris, who is known as “the Penman of the Constitution”, because he put the United States Constitution into words. Most especially, he is famous for drafting the Preamble, so that —instead of reading “We the people of the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island…”— it says “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…” Gouverneur Morris, who also designed the street grid for Manhattan and was one of the founders of Kings College (now known as Columbia) is buried under a beautiful umbrella elm tree in the historic graveyard at St. Ann’s. Lewis Morris, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence is buried at St. Ann’s also.
The church is named in honor of St. Ann, the grandmother of Jesus, because the founder’s mother was Ann Cary Randolph Morris of Virginia, a direct descendant of Pocahontas. She, too, is buried at St. Ann’s.
St. Ann’s Church is a landmark. It is the oldest continuously used church in the Bronx. When the church was founded, the entire South Bronx was called “Morrisania”; however the neighborhood where the church is located was sold to J.L. Mott, who renamed it “Mott Haven”. So, now we are St. Ann’s Church of Morrisania in Mott Haven. The Morris mansion, which was in Port Morris, was torn down.