It’s almost like a gift from above – Neighborhood churches to use grant money for important renovations

By Greg Hanlon

Four beautiful old Brooklyn churches will receive some much-needed repairs, thanks in part to grants provided by the New York Landmarks Conservancy. The grants – which totaled $66,000 for the four churches – were part of a total of $460,000 that went to 66 religious properties across New York State in 2007 funding, representing an increase in funding from last year to this year. By 2010, the conservancy expects to increase its funding by 150 percent. “At a time when religious buildings face increased pressures, the Landmarks Conservancy is pleased to be able to increase our grant numbers. These beautiful buildings are an irreplaceable part of everyone’s heritage,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church located at 424 East 19th Street received $10,000 to put toward repairing its 29 leaded-glass diamond panel windows. Currently, the lead window panes are severely deteriorating, causing the windows to bulge. “They’re really great windows, but they need to be refurbished. We’re actually losing a lot of heat in the building,” said Sylvia White, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees at the Neo-Georgian style church built in 1900. The overall cost of the window repairs is projected at $52,000. Including the Landmarks Conservancy grant, the church has raised $27,000, enough to have completely renovated twenty of the panes. White said the church hopes to raise $15,000 more between now and October when it celebrates its 109th anniversary. Another recipient of Landmarks funding was Holy Innocents Roman Catholic Church at 279 East 17th Street, which received $40,000 to help pay for the renovation of its copper roof, which is now deteriorating with severe water damage. “Water was coming inside – there were times where it was literally raining in the church,” said Dr. Alfred Cresci, the Director of Music at the English Gothic Revival-style church, built in 1923. The $40,000 is part of a $745,000 restoration project the church recently started. Cresci hopes the project will be complete in four months. After work on the roof is complete, the church will set their sights on various improvements to the church’s interior. After that, advocates want to raise money to build a community center in what is currently an empty lot across the street that the church owns. “The youth could use it, the elderly could use it, you name it. We’re very excited about the whole thing,” Cresci said. St. George’s Episcopal Church at 800 Marcy Avenue received $6,000 that will go toward the $207,000 the church needs to renovate the 24 stained glass windows in the church’s clerestory. The windows – which run along the sides of the middle section of the clerestory – currently have deteriorating frames, and some are missing glass. “[The project] is almost a complete redoing of the glass completely,” said Marie Callendar, who works on the Church’s House and Grounds Committee. Callendar said that although the church has chosen a contractor for the project, it does not have a time line on when the project will begin. St. George’s, a Gothic Revival Church built in 1887, is the only New York City landmark of the four churches that received Landmarks Conservancy funds in 2007. St. Philips Episcopal Church (334 MacDonough Street), the Bedford-Stuyvesant Gothic Revival style church built in 1899, received $10,000 that will go toward the $122,000 it wants to raise for various repairs. The building’s plaster interior has been damaged considerably by water infiltration, a function of the building’s outdated and non-functional gutters and leaders. Among other things, the church wants to use the grant to repair and reinforce these gutters. In addition, the wood windows of the tower have fallen into disrepair. The project would repair these frames.

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