Preservationists are raising hell to protect the city’s historic churches as parishes in desirable areas close and developers snatch up the holy properties.
Chelsea neighbors are fighting a proposed 11-story tower above the 150-year-old French Evangelical Church, which has struggled to pay for repairs and sold its air rights to survive. Residents say the plans are “atrocious” and want the Presbytery of New York City to try a Hail Mary.
“It’s not just about the preservation of this block — it’s about all the city’s historic churches,” said Paul Groncki of the 16th Street Block Association.
“They’re an important part of the fabric of our neighborhoods, and we don’t want to see them disappear. This church will disappear if it’s encased in concrete.”
The New York Landmarks Conservancy surveyed 1,200 significant religious sites across the city and found that more than two dozen historically or architecturally important churches have been shuttered or destroyed in the past decade. And Brooklyn parishes are especially in danger, said Ann Friedman, who runs the conservancy’s Sacred Sites program.
“We are going to see a lot of development and loss,” she said. “We can’t just sit back and wring our hands.”