St. Savior’s begins long haul to new site

By Nathan Duke

The Juniper Park Civic Association has completely removed Maspeth's historic St. Savior's Church from its 58th Street site and stored the parts at a neighborhood trucking lot as the group awaits funding to reconstruct the 160-year-old building at a Middle Village cemetery's property.

Christina Wilkinson, the civic's secretary who led the battle to save the church, said the group fought hard to preserve St. Savior's, but still has a long road ahead.

“I won't feel satisfied until it's rebuilt,” she said. “I don't know how long it will take to rebuild. We're looking at a lot of time, effort and money. Everybody's happy we've gotten this far, but we're looking at a whole new set of challenges. It's a continuation of a long struggle.”

She said the civic still hopes to save the church's former site, at 57-40 58th St. in Maspeth, for community green space.

The civic began the fight to save the church two years ago by filing a lawsuit against Richmond Hill-based developer Maspeth Development, which owns the site, on the grounds that James Maurice's 1878 deed for the property limited its usage to church or community use.

Demolition appeared imminent after the city issued a permit in February to a contractor allowing it to tear down the building. But the developer agreed in April to give the civic one month to move the church. Elected officials, including Borough President Helen Marshall, state Sen. Serphin Maltese (R-Glendale) and state Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills), secured a total $250,000 for the transfer and reconstruction. The civic is also speaking to private donors about rebuilding the church.

The civic began taking down pieces of the building last month and completed the removal process May 10, Wilkinson said. The building will later be reconstructed on a part of All Faiths Cemetery's property at 69th Street and Juniper Valley Road in Middle Village.

The removal process cost the civic $140,000, while the rebuilding of the church could cost several million dollars, Juniper Park President Robert Holden said. The deconstructed church is currently being stored in trailers at a Rust Street trucking lot in west Maspeth, he said.

“We're hoping to get budgeted from the city and state,” he said. “We'd like to put up the [building's] frame next year.”

Wilkinson said she does not know when the project will be completed, but the civic would need to refurbish parts of the church.

“There's some rot and termite damage — just some wear and tear,” she said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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