Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Methodist Condos

Sometimes, too often, I'm walking along the streets to be struck by the shock of something vanished or replaced. "When did that happen?" I find myself asking. It's a question I asked recently when walking by the Washington Square United Methodist Church on West 4th Street to find a chain across its steps and the sign:

NOVARE
Private Residences
No Loitering Please



"Novare" is the new name for this building. It's a luxury condo development. You might not notice if it weren't for that sign.

Sold and shuttered to its congregation in 2005, the 145-year-old church had a long history of social action and justice, dating back to the Vietnam War when it got the moniker "Peace Church." It was the first home to the Harvey Milk School for gay and lesbian youth, and gave shelter and space to the Black Panthers, the Gay Men's Health Crisis, Dykes Against Racism Everywhere, many art and performance groups, and community housing services. It undoubtedly impacted the lives of countless people.

Now it gives shelter to 8 private owners.



As for the church's ousted congregation, they moved over to the NYU Catholic Center for their worship. Of course, NYU just demolished that one.

14 comments:

Bowery Boogie said...

Must be strange living in a condo that was once a house of worship. I wonder if the church bells are intact.

Ken Mac said...

walking down University Place today, saw a realtor's sign: "Star Power! Move to Williamsburg"! I want to be a star too, don't you?

Anonymous said...

They voted to oust themselves and take the money, so don't cry any tears for the congregation. Also, they consolidated with two other area Methodist churches well before the Catholic center closed.

amgphoto said...

I guess I'm usually shocked or at least disturbed when I see a church turned into condos, but I supposed it's fortunate that it was preserved.

The beautiful Green Church (Bay Ridge United Methodist Church) in Bay Ridge was sold to a developer and demolished this past year.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait till St. Pat's goes condo! Perfect location -- Prime Burger and Saks close by. NYC will have no libraries or churches but then a theme park doesn't need 'em.

Anonymous said...

A church that liberal belied its very core, turned off its potential congregation, and thus deserved its demise, I must say. It is fortunate that the architecture was preserved however, as a reminder of our Christian heritage and great aesthetic and architectural sensibilities.

Jeremiah, I must say, I agree with you on 95% of your sentiments about the loss of old New York. However I am on the far right. It is funny how we can agree on so much yet be so polar.

Jeremiah Moss said...

true, anon, it is always interesting to see where left and right meet in a world more gray than black and white.

Mark said...

I knew about the condos but had no idea about the Catholic Center!

see how that works?

Anonymous said...

Excellent use of a church building. As an atheist who loves architecture I would like to see more churches turned into condos.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i feel ambivalent about organized religion, but churches do serve communities. this one served marginalized communities. when places like these turn into private homes, it's another way the city is shrinking, becoming ever more solipsistic.

A.W. said...

You should do some research before equating what happened to this Methodist church with what is going on with the Catholic Center. As the priests associated with the Catholic Center have said during masses this year, NYU has demolished the Center to build a larger, more modern faith-based center to accommodate not only the Catholic community of NYU but also members of other religions who may not otherwise have the space to congregate for worship or meditation. This is an ongoing project that has been in development for several years; it is why the Catholic Center was closed a few years ago, and masses were moved to St. Joseph's. Unfortunately, only recently did the Catholic Center and NYU have enough funds to go ahead with the project.

Anonymous said...

...the only reason this church is still standing is solely because it converted to condos...as an actual resident of this "church" we are doing several things, personally, to keep the spirit of this amazing place alive...as a former place for artists to showcase their work, we have quarterly art exhibits with friends, family and enthusiasts. To praise musically, we invite young aspiring artists to perform in our courtyard. Formerly known as the "peace church" our interior design gives a nod to this and a true appreciation to its past. Heck, we even have multiple religion-inspired pieces of artwork as an appreciation to this gorgeous building's history. While I completely understand your initial impulse, I think your other blog posts (anonymous and amgphoto) say it best. Trust me when I say we are grateful for every day we get to experience such a wonderful place now, and truly honor this building's historical relevance and importance.

Jeremiah Moss said...

interesting. i'm always curious to learn about life inside these exclusive residences. are those art exhibits and concerts open to the public? and, if so, how can we hear about them?

Anonymous said...

...not open to the public, but will certainly let you know the next time we do. (Caught your comment in the Times RE: Google Camera the other day)...take care