FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Contact: Ali Rasoulinejad, email@example.com, 212-669-7923 LPC VOTES TO LANDMARK SECOND-OLDEST RELIGIOUS BUILDING IN NEW YORK CITY
Old St. James Episcopal Church in Elmhurst Queens Newest NYC Landmark
(New York, NY)- The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to designate the Old St. James Episcopal Church at 86-02 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens as a New York City Individual Landmark. The Church was built in 1735-36 in what was called Newtown Village, and is historically significant as New York City’s second-oldest religious building, and oldest remaining Church of England mission church within the five boroughs. Retaining both 18th and 19th century historic design, workmanship, and materials, it is an architecturally significant example of the Colonial Meetinghouse form, combined with 19th century Gothic Revival and Stick style decorative details.
“The Commission is proud to designate this historic church, significant for its association with the early colonial settlement of Queens and with the beginnings of the Protestant Episcopal Church in New York,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. “As the second-oldest church building in the City, pre-dating St. Paul’s Chapel in Manhattan, it is a site well-deserving of the protection landmark status provides.”
Newtown Village, established in 1658 as Middleburgh by the Dutch, is one of the first five towns established in Queens County and one of the oldest European settlements on Long Island. In 1735, the Church of England built Old Saint James Church for the Anglican community in Newtown. The church was spared by the British during the Revolutionary War, and its parish became one of the earliest members of the New York Episcopal Diocese.
“I have been a proud supporter of efforts to designate the Old St. James Episcopal Church as a New York City Individual Landmark and I’m thrilled that the Landmarks Preservation Commission has voted to do so,” said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, who wrote a letter to the Commission advocating for landmark status. “Although this historic Church is already on the National Register of Historic Places, the designation as an individual New York City Landmark will allow for further preservation of this structure, and greater awareness of the early history of our great city. It will also ensure that future generations are able to share in the story and history of this wonderful facility. I thank the Landmarks Preservation Commission for approving this important designation.”
"The Old St. James Church is an American treasure," said Council Member Daniel Dromm, who wrote a letter in support of landmark status to the Commission. "It is a beautiful work of art and an important part of our history. The Old St. James Church tells the story of how our nation came to be. I am pleased to have joined Elmhurst residents, the church leadership and my colleagues in government to have Old St. James Church landmarked so that future generations can enjoy and learn from this remarkable structure. This is a great day for NYC."
“It is a miracle that a 1735 building is still standing and a credit to the Landmark Commission that they are ensuring its continued existence by designating it a landmark. This irreplaceable part of our history should be celebrated and preserved,” said Peg Breen, President of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. As originally constructed, the church was a simple rectangular building clad in shingles, with round-arch windows and a tower at the west end facing a graveyard. In 1848 the congregation built a larger church a block away, and it became a parish hall and chapel. In 1883 the parish updated the building’s style with Gothic Revival and Stick Style decorative details and constructed a small rear addition where the original tower once stood.
In the 20th century, the hall served the community as a centrally-located meeting place. In 2004, the Old Saint James Church building was mostly restored to its 1883 appearance using grants from the Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites program and other funding sources. The 280-year-old church structure is a remarkable reminder of New York City’s Colonial history. ###
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the mayoral agency responsible for protecting and preserving New York City’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites. Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than 36,000 buildings and sites, including 1398 individual landmarks, 120 interior landmarks, 10 scenic landmarks, and 141 historic districts and extensions in all five boroughs. Under the City’s landmarks law, considered among the most powerful in the nation, the Commission must be comprised of at least three architects, a historian, a realtor, a planner or landscape architect, as well as a representative of each borough.