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The historic Fox Savoy Theater has been reduced to rubble at Lincoln Place and Bedford Avenue in Crown Heights. Demolition began last winter and moved along pretty slowly, because workers took the building down by hand and salvaged pieces of its ornate facade. The 1926 Neo-Classical structure was originally built as a movie palace for mogul William Fox (of 20th Century Fox), but in recent years a church occupied the grand white terra cotta building.

Charity Baptist Church sold the Thomas Lamb-designed building at 1515 Bedford Avenue for the low seeming price of $575,000 in 2012, as we reported. A 10-story, 114-unit apartment building designed by Issac & Stern will rise in its place at 1515 Bedford Avenue. The development will have 60 subterranean parking spots, ground-floor space for a synagogue and a roof deck, as previously reported. The developer is Realty Within Reach.

Click through for a few more photos of the demolition.

1515 Bedford Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Building of the Day: 1515 Bedford Avenue [Brownstoner]

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In March, WyckoffHeights.org reported big changes are coming to the corner of Knickerbocker and Willoughby, right across from Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick. The two-story church at 260 Knickerbocker Avenue is slated to be converted to an 11-story apartment building designed by Scarano protege and now-prolific Williamsburg architect Nataliya Donskoy, which would make it the tallest building on the park.

We were curious about the progress, and figured it would be well along by now. But in fact, the plans were disapproved this month and there is no sign of construction at the church, not even a rendering or, of course, any kind of permit. (more…)

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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.

Rendering by Isaac & Stern GMAP

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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


A reader sent along this photo and an update at the Carlton Mews Church conversion, at 232 Adelphi Street. At this stage of the game, the building has a new roof and is getting a second level, which you can see through the stained glass window. The Department of Buildings issued permits for a residential conversion this May. There will be 12 units, and our tipster says they’ll be condos. RSVP Architecture Studio is in charge of the design. This structure was in bad, bad shape a few years ago. Reinforcement work began in 2011, then an LPC application for facade changes popped up this year. The church has a different owner than the townhouse project going up on Carlton Avenue. The other day, construction workers started bricking up the facades there.
Carlton Mews Church Heads to Landmarks [Brownstoner]
Roof Support for Carlton Mews Church [Brownstoner]
Carlton Mews Church to be Saved From Danger of Collapse [Brownstoner] GMAP


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…)