Application to Demolish Fire-Damaged Facade of Landmarked Middle Collegiate Church, 112 Second Avenue, To Be Heard Next Tuesday
Next Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will hear an application by Middle Collegiate Church to demolish the remaining fire-damaged facade of their landmarked 1894 church. The church suffered a devastating fire in 2020 emanating from a neighboring property and most of it was destroyed, though the facade has remained standing with reinforcement. The church is now asking for permission to clear the site as they contemplate and plan for their future.
The application contends that it would be impossible to retain the facade and integrate it into a new structure, or to even do work on the site with the facade remaining, and thus it should come down. We are urging the Landmarks Preservation Commission not to grant such permission at this time, because we don’t believe there is sufficient documentation that alternatives to preserve the historic facade have been fully explored, nor that there is sufficient evidence at this time to justify the permanent and irreversible removal. We are calling for further examination and documentation before such a decision would be appropriate to render.
We want to see the church rebuild and flourish at this location, and know that they have been through incredible hardship. But we also believe that this process must be extremely carefully considered, to ensure unchangeable decisions that could have been avoided are not made, and harmful precedents are not set for allowing demolition of historically significant structures without reasonable and achievable proof of the necessity of doing so.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing on Tuesday begins at 9:30 AM, but the time on the agenda for this item has not yet been set.