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Historic church becomes one for the ages

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Hark the herald angels sing — the church is a landmark!

One of Williamsburg’s most historic churches, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran, became a city landmark this week after more than a year of deliberations.

Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairman Robert Tierney noted the building’s 125-year history and called it a “spiritual anchor” for the community to this day.

“The substantial size and cohesive design of the prominently sited church complex make a powerful statement along a quiet, residential block,” said Tierney.

Located at the corner of S. Fifth and Rodney streets, the building’s four-story red-bricked steeple rose above the neighborhood as a beacon to thousands of German families since 1885.

Architect Josiah Cleaveland Cady, known for designing the lesser-known American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, designed the stately Romanesque Revivial-style complex, which includes a three-story parsonage and a two-story chapel building.

The religious building’s most prominent feature is its bell tower, which has a slate and copper roof, a stone Greek cross, and an arched entrance with distinctive brick and terra-cotta moldings.

Today it is home to two fledgling Protestant denominations, a Spanish-speaking Lutheran congregation, which meets on Sunday mornings, and a Presbyterian ministry called Resurrection Presbyterian Church, which worships on Sunday nights — both of which supported the landmarking.

Now that it has been landmarked, the building’s stewards will be able to tap into additional funds to maintain it while avoiding the fate of its demolished neighbor, the former Commodore Theater.

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Reader Feedback

Joey from Clinton Hills says:
can it still be turned into condos now that it is landmarked?
April 14, 2011, 10:41 am

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