Historic Church Resists Landmark Status

Landmarking important buildings is a good thing, right? It protects and recognizes exemplary architecture and culture, and can even help its owners secure funds for repairs and upkeep.

Well, the Ukrainian Church in Exile, which inhabits a historic and beautiful Beaux-Arts building in Williamsburg, is having none of it.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy, a non-profit organization committed to “preserving, revitalizing, and reusing New York’s architecturally significant buildings,” has called for its designation. According to DNAInfo, Ann-Isabel Friedman of the NYLC (OK, they don’t actually call themselves that) has said, “There’s really no downside… They seem to see it as something that creates less value in the building.”

Preservationists and parishioners are at odds over the fate of this building

Preservationists and parishioners are at odds over the potential landmarking

Church leaders, however, have opposed landmark status, claiming it would make their costs prohibitively expensive.  Reverend Wolodymyr Wronskyj argues that increased regulation will only make maintenance more difficult, though the Conservancy does distribute over half a million dollars in grants annually.

Additionally, the Church has raised more than $2,000,000 for repairs to the building, which has at various points in its history housed a bank and a courthouse.

This may have swayed Brooklyn Community Board One, who has supported the Church in opposing landmark status. Regardless, the verdict will be made by the Landmarks Preservation Commission later this month.

As developers continue to buy air rights and lots, many are concerned the Church only wishes to retain control of the structure and its rights to sell out later, which designation would prohibit.

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The Church in 1977

It would be a tragedy if this historic building were lost to more condos.


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