Christ Church Steeples to Come Down

There’s more bad news from Cobble Hill’s Christ Church, which was damaged in a lightning storm and consequently killed one neighborhood resident. Now it looks like the four steeples rising above the bell tower will have to be torn down, The New York Times reported. Yesterday, one steeple already came down (they are about 70 feet high!) and the others are expected to be removed in the next few days. The lightning also caused roof damage, threatening the interiors as well. A church official said it is not yet clear whether insurance will cover a full restoration. The Gothic Revival church was designed by Richard Upjohn, creator of Trinity Church in Manhattan. According to the Times, the church was “damaged by a fire in 1939 and all but six windows of the nave were destroyed, including a Tiffany window depicting the Adoration of the Magi. The church, though, was rebuilt and designated a city landmark in 1969.”
Lightning Shatters Tower at a 19th-Century Church [NY Times]
Lightning Kills Man, Damages Church in Cobble Hill [Brownstoner]
Lightning Hit Brooklyn Last Night, Caused One Fatality [Brownstoner]

15 Comment

  • why in the world are they making the church take down the intact finials? That’s just an irrational reaction by the DOB. Dozens and dozens of churches have brownstone steeples and finials.
    -maybe not for long.
    The DOB under Bloomberg is increasingly anti-historic preservation.

  • I was told this morning by a supervisor that the tower is being taken down to the level of the sills at the base of the belfry. -so things are going to get a lot worse. I was also told that the tower was leaning and that was why they were taking down more than just the finials.

    I believe that responsibility for this disaster lie largely with the Episcopal church for not taking proper care of this building. This is a true gem that I have walked by and admired and been inspired by most of my life and I have always been astounded by the extraordinary lack of maintenance the building has been given. Imagine having an architectural treasure like this and just letting it fall apart.

    This is a mess

  • I’m very sorry to hear about all this, especially the loss of life. A friend of mine got married here, which was the first time I was inside. It’s a beautiful church, and a treasure.

  • The tragedy of the death is being compounded by the mutilation of a landmark.
    I don’t see why the tower can’t be restored. It didn’t just collapse on its own. It was struck by lightning.

    • If the masonry had been properly maintained and the building had proper lightning protection installed, then getting struck by lightning would have likely caused zero damage. This entire disaster is the result of the buildings owner not being responsible for their property/

      • I was wondering about the lack of lightning protection myself, seeing that I read the building had been struck in the past and was part of the reason scaffolding was up. This was neglect on someone’s part, and it’s very sad the steeples are coming down.

  • How many buildings in Cobble Hill have lightning protection? You are blaming the victims of an extremely unfortunate act of nature. It is extremely arrogant and unkind.

  • Sounds very much like a scene from “The Omen”.

  • Most buildings don’t have lightning protection, but if you have a spire, or two or more, and are taller than anything else around, then you should have it, just to be a good neighbor (and maintain your masonry as well.) I know churches struggle to get funds to do expensive maintenance on old buildings, but just leaving it undone is not an acceptable risk. This church, given its denomination and location, likely has more access to funds than many.

  • It’s probably due to the fact that they allow gay and lesbian ministers in the Episcopal Church.


    • I don’ t understand Minard’s point – how is it arrogant to blame the church for not properly maintaining their building or having proper lighting protection – there is no blame being leveled at Mr Schwartz at all. If you own the tallest building in an area and you don’t have lightning protection you are either an idiot or negligent or both.

      To label my comments as arrogant and unkind is nonsense

  • The preschool housed in Christ Church is due to open its doors for the school year in a little over a month. As a parent of a kid due to be there, I’m very nervous about safety in the building, and kids going to class at a construction site. Does anybody know what safety inspections the building would have to pass before the school can reopen? And what documentation we should ask the administration to produce to demonstrate safety before the semester begins? Thanks.

  • The Ninth Annual Children of Abraham Peace Walk will be held in Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill starting at 5:00 pm on September 11, 2012.

    Recognizing and supporting the solidarity that arises after any disaster, this Year’s Walk will visit several houses of worship, and include Christ Church, which was severely damaged in a Fatal Lightning Strike this past summer; as well as a local Firehouse.

    PLEASE COME EXPRESS SOLIDARITY AND RESPRESENT THE NEIGHBORHOOD IN ITS DIVERSITY. We meet at Kane Street Synagogue at 5 pm and end at the Brooklyn Promenade at 7 pm. Performers and Artists welcome.

    For more information see: or call Rev Tom Martinez at (718) 915 2600.