Request to demolish fire-damaged facade of historic Central Collegiate Church, 112 Second Avenue, to be heard next Tuesday – Village Preservation

The request to demolish the fire-damaged facade of the historic Central Collegiate Church, 112 Second Avenue, will be heard next Tuesday

Next Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will hear a request from the Middle Collegiate Church to demolish the remaining fire-damaged facade of their historic 1894 church. The church suffered a devastating fire in 2020 emanating from a neighboring property and most of it was destroyed, although the facade remained standing with reinforcements. The church is now asking permission to clean up the site as it considers and plans for its future.

The claim argues that it would be impossible to retain the facade and incorporate it into a new structure, or even do any work on the site with the remaining facade, and therefore it would have to fall. We urge the Landmarks Preservation Commission not to grant such permission at this time, as we do not believe there is sufficient documentation to indicate that alternatives to preserve the historic facade have been fully explored, nor that there is there is currently enough evidence to justify permanent and irreversible withdrawal. We request further review and documentation before such a decision is appropriate.

We want to see the church rebuild and prosper there, and know that it has gone through incredible trials. But we also believe that this process must be extremely carefully studied, to ensure that immutable decisions that could have been avoided are not made and that harmful precedents are not created to permit the demolition of historically significant structures without reasonable and feasible evidence of the need to do so.

The public hearing for the Monuments Preservation Commission begins Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., but the time on the agenda for this item has not yet been set.

November 10, 2022