Just how sacred is a "Sacred Site?" Tami Ellen McLaughlin, Our Lady of Peace Special Events Chair and lector, speaks about the concerns that parishioners, neighbors and preservationists have about keeping churches like Our Lady of Peace open.
A second wave of 30 churches have been selected, adding to the more than 100 churches previously designated by the Archdiocese of New York, to be merged or closed. The New York Landmarks Conservancy has described this growing trend as a crisis: "If a substantial number of Catholic churches are closed or redeveloped, all New York City neighborhoods and other denominations will be impacted."
The Church of Our Lady of Peace, a designated landmark, is located at 237 East 62nd Street in Manhattan’s Treadwell Farm Historic District. It is scheduled to be closed by the Archdiocese of New York by August 1, 2015, pending an appeal to the Vatican.
The New York Landmarks Conservancy's 5th Annual "Sacred Sites Open House Weekend" starts on Saturday, May 16 with events through the weekend at multiple churches throughout the Upper East Side, New York City boroughs, and New York State.
“New York’s religious institutions are often the most beautiful buildings in their neighborhoods,” said Peg Breen, president of The New York Landmarks Conservancy, “but they are often seen only by their members. The Sacred Sites Open House Weekend allows everyone to enjoy the architecture, art, and history of these remarkable structures.”
“Our Lady of Peace is a centerpiece of the landmarked Treadwell Farm Historic District, one of the oldest designated landmark neighborhoods in New York City. On April 19, 1965 Mayor Robert F. Wagner signed the New York Landmark Law and created the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission,” said Julianne Bertagna, president of the Treadwell Farms Historic District. “Within the first two years of its existence, the commission designated Treadwell Farm, the two blocks of East 61st and East 62nd Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenue, as a landmark because of its architectural importance, and specifically for its ‘consistent, residential character, its uniform cornice height, and in the style of its buildings and care with which the buildings are preserved.’ We are eager to share the art, architecture, and history of the Church of Our Lady of Peace as we continue to preserve the church.”
"Parishioners and friends of Our Lady of Peace Church are extremely proud to have their beloved and endangered church included in the New York Landmarks Conservancy 5th Annual Sacred Sites Open House Weekend,” said Tami Ellen McLaughlin, Our Lady of Peace Special Events Chair. “We are thrilled to welcome preservationists touring the Upper East Side, and invite the community to learn about our rich history, founded by Italian immigrants nearly 100 years ago.”
“Around the city and state, our local preservation partners have done a fabulous job helping the Conservancy recruit additional sacred sites this year – our 5th year of the Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Open House Weekend,” said Ann-Isabel Friedman, Sacred Sites Program Director. “This May 16th and 17th, over 60 historic New York City churches, synagogues, and meeting houses will open their doors – more than ever before. On the Upper East Side, the Treadwell Farm Historic District Association and our co-sponsor, Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts have signed up more than 10 Upper East Side landmarks and landmark-eligible churches and synagogues to open their doors to the public.”
The Church of Our Lady of Peace will be open from 7 a.m.-9 p.m. during regular hours and Masses will be held during regular hours during the weekend. Special events will include:
Saturday, May 16 from 1-4 p.m.
1-2 p.m. Armed Forces Day Concert
The Patriot Brass Ensemble, an organization that provides music for Veterans, will feature an historical selection of sacred, secular, and military music, starting with music from the First World War, the era when the parish Our Lady of Peace was formed. The concert will include a narration by the musicians and Our Lady of Peace parishioners and friends between selections. Download program.
2-4 p.m. Historical Lecture and Docent Tours
Denise De Vito is an educator with the New York City Department of Education’s Professional Studies Program, where she has extensive experience teaching courses to educators on New York City's history and culture, based on a variety of themes, through museum education. Ms. De Vito is currently on the faculty of the St. Francis of Assisi Education Program and teaches various courses on women of the bible, women saints, and holy women from the ancient world through the Renaissance and New York City's historic houses of worship.
Sunday, May 17, from 2-5 p.m.
2-4:30 p.m. Historical Lecture and Docent Tours
Gregory Dietrich, a preservation consultant, will present talks based on his recent historic architectural investigation prepared for the Friends of Our Lady of Peace. Mr. Dietrich specializes in architectural history, preservation planning and law, and cultural resource management. Mr. Dietrich has won several awards for his work including the Austin, Nichols & Company Warehouse Local Designation Coalition Historic Districts Council Grassroots Preservation Award and the New Jersey Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects Research Award.
4:30-5 p.m Charismatic Prayer Community Choir
Other participating sites cover a broad spectrum of faith traditions, historic periods, and architectural styles, from the magnificent Moorish Central Synagogue and Park East Synagogues, to the unusual Scandinavian inspired Trinity Baptist; from the small, Renwick-designed Gothic Episcopal Church of the Resurrection to the enormous Romanesque and neo-Byzantine Temple Emanu-El and Christ Church United Methodist. Additionally, several Roman Catholic churches representing a range of periods and styles will participate, including Our Lady of Peace, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, and St. Jean Baptiste.
For more information and a complete list of sacred sites participating in the Landmarks Conservancy’s Open House Weekend, visit www.nylandmarks.org.