Steeple Demolition Uncontroversial in Sheepshead

sheepshead-church-2-2011.jpgThis weekend The Times took a look at Sheepshead Bay’s United Methodist, where the congregation says it will have to take down the steeples on the neighborhood’s oldest church because they’re a safety hazard and would be too costly to repair. According to the article, the impending demolition has not been met with much outcry in the neighborhood: “There were no protests, heated community meetings or fund-raising campaigns to save the steeples. That quiet, said Ned Berke, the editor of Sheepshead Bites, revealed just how fragmented and disconnected from history Sheepshead Bay had become. ‘Sheepshead’s changing demographics are an ongoing obstacle to communication,’ Mr. Berke wrote in an e-mail. ‘It really throws a wrench in any attempt to preserve the building and its history.'” The story also notes that the church’s congregation has declined drastically over the years and its “officials said the decision to tear down the spires was not an easy one. It was made only after years of meetings with architects, engineers and city officials.”
A Neighborhood’s Steeples Are Set to Disappear Quietly [NY Times]
Here is the Church, and There Go the Steeples [Brownstoner] GMAP
Photo by wallyg.

21 Comment

  • Actually this is a sign that the good people of Sheepshead Bay have better things to do with their time (like work? raise a family?) than worry about church steeples.

    Had this been Park Slope it would have lead to 8-18 months of heated debate, community meetings, blog posts, protests, wild conspiracy theories about Bruce Ratner and countless “community plans.”

    Meanwhile the whole damm thing would have collapsed.

  • clitonhiller, that is EXACTLTY what i was going to say.


  • The church never sought National Register listing (despite pleas from the community.) This would have made the building eligible for grants that might have saved the steeples.

  • I lived in the Bay for a decade or so, have you driven through lately? The new money there is going into more, how shall I put it, more Ethnic design. Shame, that’s why I left.

  • If they had a National Register listing, would that make them automatically receive grants for enough money to cover the steeples?

    What are the costs (both money and time) for applying for the listing and grants?

    Who from the community stepped in to assist the church in the process and not just criticize them?

    From my experience in churches, my guess is that there are not enough volunteer hours to carry out the core mission of the church, much less go though a process that may leave the church in a worse position than it was before.

  • Slope4Eva….if you didn’t want the “ethnics” to move in then you shouldn’t have sold to them!!!

  • Who said I sold to them?

  • Cue Minard, Blayze and the preservation choir about how this is some sort of crime against humanity.

  • It was all said in the last thread.

  • I wish they would just get on with it already and tear the steeples down. How many more stories are we going to have to read about this sad little church?
    I hate to disappoint dirty hipster, but if the community doesn’t care about it, neither do I.
    I never go to Sheepshead Bay and have no intention of starting now.

  • Come on, DH, are you filling in for one of our absented members? It’s not a crime against humanity, it’s just a shame that preservation is not a consideration to more people. But, considering the reality of the situation, a poor and aging congregation and the simple lack of resources, tied to a much larger lack of concern about historic places in the halls of government, whattaya gonna do?

    I do my bit working for what can possibly be saved, first in my own community, and then elsewhere. That’s all any of us can do, if we care about preservation. There are a lot of us out there, but we can’t tilt at every windmill, especially without community support. This one is a lost battle. We keep working to win the bigger battles, building at a time. The biggest battle is to win the hearts and minds of people, on the streets, in the board rooms and at City Hall.

  • I haven’t been to church in a while – but I think Jesus would not care much about these steeples.

    preservation of nice buildings is good – but not at the forefront of what a church sets out to accomplish.

  • “preservation of nice buildings is good – but not at the forefront of what a church sets out to accomplish.”

    Agree totally.
    Also, as Churches go, this one looks unremarkable.

  • I think it’s a very beautiful little church and I understand the issue from all sides. Still and all, it would be sad if help was available and the congregation simply didn’t care. If the steeples have to come down for safety’s sake, that is a priority, no question. But i wonder if it could have been resolved in a better way if the congregation and the community actually communicated with one another instead of seeming to fight one another.

  • “But i wonder if it could have been resolved in a better way if the congregation and the community actually communicated with one another instead of seeming to fight one another.”

    I think the point of the article is that the church and the community did not fight, because the community did not care if the steeples came down.

  • BHS- but the earlier article and thread said that there was some issue- especially where a preservationist insulted the pastor unnecessarily.

  • I thought in the other article the preservationist was from outside the community.

    I guess part of it depends on how you define the community. For a church that size, I would probably not count anyone from more than one or 2 miles away, unless they spent a good bit of time closer to the church.

  • do they have the money to demolish the steeples? They seem to be dithering.
    I’m sure it would be cheaper to bring in a clamshell and demolish the entire church rather than securing the church and carefully demolishing the steeples taking care they don’t fall into the church.

  • On President’s Day Brownstoner posted this article about the demolition of a Scandinavian-designed (Danish) church. I was surprised there were not more comments, but it was the holiday and there were few posters. The Danish church seems more architecturally significant than the one in today’s post.

    “New Housing to Replace Bay Ridge Church”

  • prezanon: The little Danish church is interesting but it doesn’t grab people the same way.
    That Germanic/Scandinavian style from the early 20th century did not really catch on in the US. The best example in the City is the Swedish Baptist church on E.61 ST. Manhattan. That is an amazing building.

  • ^^^ Thanks, Minard.