Cash-Strapped Congregations Can't Save Landmark Churches

Another victim of the economic downturn is historic preservation. In New York, a number of churches slated for preservation can't find the funds to keep the bulldozers away.

"A ruddy sandstone bell tower interrupts the march of gray apartment buildings along Manhattan's West 86th Street. The muscular tower rises above the West Park Presbyterian Church, a beefy beauty erected in 1890, when houses of worship were well-wrought civic ornaments rather than tricked-out TV studios inside beige boxes near a freeway.

In February, it seemed, West Park was a candidate for demolition.

The church, in stark contrast to its well-heeled neighborhood, stands abandoned and neglected, with its delicate rose window obscured by a filthy plastic panel to ward off vandals. A scaffolding over the trash-covered sidewalk prevents intricate foliage carved into stone from falling on passersby.

When workers started hauling out debris, activists feared a prelude to bulldozing, though actually the mess had been made by a burst pipe. The possibility of demolition (or a ruinous accident) at last ended dithering at the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission. The commission has scheduled West Park for a hearing that could lead to landmark designation."

"Now the fear is 'demolition by neglect,' as Kate Wood, who heads the advocacy group Landmark West, put it."

Full Story: Landmark Churches Rot With Deals Drying Up

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