Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Protecting distinctive houses of worship

Houses of worship are among the most sensitive issues facing the landmarks commission. Mandating that a church be preserved can not only impose a heavy financial burden on a congregation, it also raises the specter of state interference with religious freedom. So the commission has been especially loath to take on churches or synagogues that don’t want to be designated.

Preserving the City: Church and State

But many preservationists and at least one commission member argue that the landmarks commission has not been aggressive enough in protecting churches from the overheated real estate market of the last few years. Given that churches tend to be low-rise buildings in choice residential locations, they note, the structures became prime targets for developers intent on building high-rise apartment towers.

Mr. Tierney defended the commission’s record on houses of worship, citing 12 it has designated in his five-year tenure. Five were named individual landmarks and seven won protection as part of historic districts.

He then goes on to rattle off the names of a bunch of religious institutions in Manhattan...


Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that the outer Bs are ignored - the folks at the Sacred Site Progam at MAS will be reminded time and again how they stabbed Astoria in the back on the Astoria Presbyterian Church - and how the develoepers threw this in the face of the community as it tried to organize.

Whistling Joke said...

Again, the problem is with the presevation community itself.

They are fully aware of this and yet no ideas are suggested.

Anonymous said...


The LPC went all the way up to
the U.S. Supreme Court defending the landmark status of Saint Bart's Church in Manhattan.

You ought to see the lengthy file on this one at the commission's headquarters.

It's (I believe) still the LPC's largest.

It only goes to show you that there are 2 different landmarks laws
operating in NYC.

One for the wealthy nabes and one for the have not neighborhoods
in the outer boroughs...especially Queens which is #4 down on the
number of designated sites in NYC!

Then there's the remaining tragedy of St. Saviour's on the other end of the St. Bart's scale!


Anonymous said...

Sacred Sites is a Landmarks Conservancy project - not MAS. They helped with St. Savior's.

Anonymous said...

The Sacred Sites program of the Landmarks Conservancy also helped the Old Quaker (17th century) Meeting House in Flushing (I believe a couple of times).