Church conversions are nothing new, but lately we’ve been seeing designs that marry the old structure to what looks like a new office-style building. Here’s the latest example, an old Romanesque Revival church most recently used as a school at 991 Eastern Parkway, where developer Brookland Capital appears to be planning a residential conversion. The company bought the building in May for $2,100,000, and has yet to file any permits.
You may recall the developer is planning a similar project in Bushwick. The architect on both is Isaac & Stern. The Wall Street Journal recently noted a similar plan to build a condo tower cantilevered over a church in Manhattan. ”Churches are on the radar” of developers, the story quoted a Halstead exec as saying, because of the rising costs of land.
In this design, the old church building is simplified and flattened so it looks like a facade on a stage set or a trompe l’ oeil church. What do you think of it? Click through to the jump to see how the building looks today.
When Christ Church on Clinton Street in Cobble Hill was struck by lightning in July 2012 causing a scaffolding to collapse on and kill a 61-year-old passerby, the church had been fighting for years with its insurance company for additional funds to fix the deteriorating structure in the wake of another lightning strike in 2000 and a small earthquake in 2009. The Wall Street Journal has recently unearthed internal church meeting minutes and correspondence with its insurance company which sheds more light onto who was aware of structural problems and when problems were flagged. Documents obtained by The Journal show that church officials were indeed aware of the problems and had been trying to get money from its insurance company for years when last year’s tragic accident happened. In a 2009 meeting with engineers, the structure was referred to as “very hazardous.” “There is continuous deterioration in the church and the tower,” say the minutes. “This has gone on too long. Plans must be put in place.” In a 2009 letter to its insurance company, the church pointed out severe problems in the tower’s northwest pinnacle column it attributed to the 2000 lightning incident. In 2009, the Church Insurance Agency Corp. agreed to revisit its $120,000 payout from 2000 (the church had sought as much as $800,000) but ultimately came to the conclusion that the church’s poor condition was due to neglect not lightning damage and refused to pay out any more money. The problems were not fixed. In the days following the accident last year, the Department of Buildings issued violations to the church relating to scaffolding and sidewalk sheds; there had been no sidewalk shed in place where the pedestrian was killed. Christ Church Considered ‘Hazardous’ Before a Death [WSJ] Photo from the Brooklyn Bugle
When the Church of the Redeemer announced it would demolish its Gothic Revival structure at 24 4th Avenue at Pacific Street last year, the plan ignited community protest. Carolynn DiFiore Balmelle of the East Pacific Street Block Association updated us on the group’s continuing efforts to save the church. Since last July they have been fighting to repurpose the building, which was used as a school back in the ’70s. DiFiore Balmelle reached out to area preschools to gauge interest in moving into the structure; two schools seriously considered it and were given a tour last month. There’s still resistance from the church, though: Although they could charge an annual rent of $400,000 for the space, they are arguing that it would take $4 million to get the building back up to snuff. The church’s original plan was to demolish for a mixed-use building, including a new church and residential units. DiFiore Balmelle estimates that the existing structure, which needs its roof, electricity, and plumbing replaced, needs $2 million in repairs. She isn’t hopeful that the church will ultimately agree to rent out or repair the building. There also isn’t hope that Landmarks will step in to designate this building, which will soon be 160 years old. The community is holding another meeting to talk strategy, organize protest, and gain more support on Tuesday, April 30. It’ll be held at the YWCA at 30 3rd Avenue at 7 pm.
We took a trip out to Holy Name of Jesus Church at 245 Prospect Park West in Windsor Terrace to check out the interior, which has been dramatically altered throughout the years. The congregation is trying to raise upwards of $1 million for a full-scale restoration. The main focus of the project is remaking the altar area, including purchasing and installing a marble altarpiece by James Renwick (originally the focal point at a different Brooklyn church, now dissembled at a warehouse.) If the congregation raises more money, they will consider replacing the pews and the carpet and taking out the back wall. In any event, the Pepto-Bismol pink paint is definitely going. Click through to see interior photos of the church and read more details about the renovation plans. As of this week, the congregation has already raised $725,000 toward the project. Impressive. Big Renovation for Windsor Terrace Church [Brownstoner] Holy Name of Jesus Brooklyn Church Restoration Project [Facebook] (more…)
A historic church in Windsor Terrace, the Holy Name of Jesus Church at 245 Prospect Park West, is receiving a big historical restoration. And as a tipster puts it, “This isn’t just any church overhaul: Holy Name was architecturally desecrated in the 1970s, stripped of its beautiful original interiors, painted Pepto-Bismol PINK (it still is), and outfitted like a cross between a fern bar and the transporter room of the USS Enterprise.” The parish is now ready for a renovation and is focusing on a marble altarpiece by James Renwick as the focal point of the project. (Check out pictures of the altarpiece right here.) The church released a few images of proposed designs, although the final design will not be determined until the church knows how much money it can raise. A spokeswoman there says that if all goes according to plan they hope to finish the renovation in time for Christmas. If people are interested in contributing funds, they can call the Holy Name rectory at (718) 768-3071. They can also follow the whole project on Facebook. Holy Name of Jesus Brooklyn Church Restoration Project [Facebook]
The entrance and exterior of a Clinton Hill church built in 1891 and being used as a homeless shelter and hub for Occupy Sandy relief efforts were charred in a suspicious fire that started just before 4 am Sunday, many news outlets reported. Cans of gas intended for emergency generators were used to start the fire. The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew is located at 520 Clinton Avenue. “Why do people do bad things?” the New York Daily News quoted Reverend Chris Ballard, the church’s curate, as saying. “We don’t know and our job is to try to work past that, try to find forgiveness. This is the season of it.” Sunday morning the choir sang outside the church, and services were held at a few blocks away at Brown Memorial Baptist Church. The church will hold Christmas Eve midnight mass tonight at 10 pm. Council Member Tish James sent out a press release stating that a reward of $1,000 is offered for information leading to the arrest of whoever set the fire. Fire Damages Brooklyn Church [NY Times] Historic Brooklyn Church Damaged in Early Morning Blaze [NY Daily News] Photo by Vic Nicastro for New York Daily News
GammaBlog shot these extremely cool, documentary-style photos of the Occupy Sandy warehouse operations that have taken over The Church of St. Luke and St. Matthew Episcopal church in Clinton Hill. Click through to the original story to see all the photos. Pretty impressive — both the setup and the photos. Occupy Sandy’s Holy Warehouse [GammaBlog]
The metal cornice is gone at the the St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church on the corner of Classon Avenue and Sterling Place in Crown Heights. It was removed with a crane a few days ago, after pieces were dangling off the building due to the storm. A reader in last week’s post noted that the damaged tower has been in poor shape for several years, due to constant problems with pigeons and some grating that fell on the roof. We hear that this parish does not have lots of money, and this particular structure isn’t under landmarks protection. What a shame. See a few more shots after the jump. Roof Collapsing at Crown Heights Church [Brownstoner] (more…)
This was the scene this afternoon at the St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church on the corner of Classon Avenue and Sterling Place. Police taped off the entire block and looked like they were waiting for the portion of the roof to fall off. This church was built in 1905; the twin towers have clock faces on the right and the carillon of ten bells on the left. It’s the right tower with the structural damage. See a BOTD post here. See more pictures after the jump, including a dramatic shot of the collapse happening on the other side of the building. (more…)
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]