West-Park Presbyterian

165 West 86th St (at Amsterdam Avenue)

This church was designed by Henry F. Kilburn and opened in 1889. This lot was purchased by The Park Church (originally on WEA at 84th Street) in 1882 and when the congregation outgrew the intitial 1884 chapel built on this site (designed by Leopold Eidlitz), Kilburn was commissioned to design a larger structure that incorporated the chapel. The building incorporates medieval Romanesque forms (rock-faced masonry, round arches and the towers) and is constructed with Lake Superior red sandstone trimmed with Longmeadow brownstone. It is the last remaining example of a Richardsonian Revival-style church surviving in Manhattan. The Park Church merged with West Presbyterian Church (on west 42nd Street), forming Park-West Presbyterian in 1911 and meeting in this building. (LandmarkWest.org)

The fragile quality of the materials, inadequate maintenance and dwindling support funds from a shrinking congregation conspired to leave this striking building in quite dreadful shape by the end of the 20th century. The sidewalk shed is necessary to protect pedestrians from rock falling off the crumbling building - which is clear from close examinations of the full-sized images linked from the thumbnails below. At the time I visited in the Spring of 2008, plans were underway to demolish the church and replace it with an 18-story glass tower incorporating both condos and housing for low-income tenants (with separate entrances) as well as a new, smaller worship space for the church. A photo of the proposed tower (as well as an alternative suggested by a preservation group) can be viewed HERE...

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