Manhattan’s Middle Collegiate Church begins façade demolition

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Religion

NEW YORK (RNS) — Three years after a six-alarm fire ravaged Manhattan’s Middle Collegiate Church, members of the congregation gathered on Monday (Nov. 20) to watch the first steps of the façade’s demolition.“Even though this is a difficult decision, it is the right one for us, so we can move forward, so we can build back better,” said the Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis, the church’s senior minister.
It was a bittersweet day. After the fire erupted, the façade became for some a “beacon of hope.” But uncertainty grew over whether it could be salvaged. Earlier this month, the city’s landmark preservation commission granted permission to demolish the severely damaged façade.
Starting with the north tower, the three-month-long demolition should leave the façade’s arch untouched. The congregation hopes to move back to an adjacent building onsite by the end of 2024. That building, on 50 East 7th Street, didn’t burn but was damaged by water used to control the church’s fire.
The first phase of the reconstruction will focus on restoring the first floors of this partially damaged five-story building. Once the old sanctuary is reconstructed, the church plans to hold services on the first floor and lease the ground floor to a “like-minded, mission-aligned partner,” Lewis …

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