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The embattled historic Maspeth church spared the wrecking ball by preservationists’ efforts last year got $2 million closer to being rebuilt.
City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) has allocated $500,000 and Borough President Helen Marshall has pledged to provide $1.5 million from her budget for the first phase of the reconstruction of the 162-year-old St. Saviour’s Church on the property of All Faiths Cemetery.
When the reconstruction is finished, the historic structure will be called the Richard Upjohn Educational Center and Amphitheatre, after the famed architect who designed the church in 1847.
“This is a huge victory for the people of Queens, especially for those living in Maspeth and Middle Village,” said Crowley.
Dan Andrews, a spokesman for Marshall, said work on the project would begin next year.
“She did not want to lose an opportunity to restore this historic church,” he said.
The news marked the first progress on the project since last summer, when the Juniper Park Civic and other city-based preservation groups succeeded in raising funds to disassemble the church and remove it from its old property, where developers were hoping to construct private homes. The civic had been fighting against the demolition of the church since 2006.
“This is such a milestone,” Juniper Park Civic President Robert Holden said, but noted the funding was only the first step in the restoration, which could take as much as three years. The total cost, he said, could reach $4 million.
“We’re going to try to raise $100,000 in private money to match city funds,” Holden said.
The first phase of the reconstruction will involve grading the new land at 69th Street and 69th Place and reconstructing the wooden church’s frame and roof for use as an open-air performing arts venue. The second phase of the project will reconstruct the exterior walls of the building using some existing boards and new material crafted using information gathered by architectural firm Kaitsen Woo during the disassembly last summer.
The removal process cost the preservationists $140,000. The disassembled church is currently sitting in several trailers at a Rust Street trucking lot in west Maspeth. The original time frame for rebuilding was slated to start in September 2008.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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