Throughout the city, houses of worship built in the last century for Jewish and Christian immigrants from Europe are now home to congregations with roots in Latin America, the Caribbean or the American South. Some are grand palaces that occupy a regal spot in a neighborhood, while others are modest halls nearly indistinguishable from bland storefronts. They sustain communities by helping slake spiritual and material thirsts.
Once Synagogues, Now Churches, and Ailing Quietly
Many of these buildings are under threat, crumbling from years of neglect and deferred maintenance in the case of impoverished congregations, or becoming targets for acquisition by developers in neighborhoods where choice real estate is scarce.
Preservationists have begun to sound alarms, warning that rich urban traditions of art, religion and community service are imperiled.
“You see in these buildings history and continuity, and the influence of new populations and new religions,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. “The face of the city will change and an important part of our history will be lost if these buildings disappear.”
“If nothing is done, these churches could fall like dominoes,” [Julia Vitullo-Martin] said. “There is something sad about the destruction of something of great beauty. It is the ultimate in using up your capital when you destroy a church or synagogue.”
Photo from the NY Times