Preservation Issues

LPC Approves Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Morningside Heights

-Cathedral of St. John the Divine

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) made two long-awaited designations in Upper Manhattan on February 21 –The Cathedral Church with six buildings that form the Close of St. John the Divine and a Morningside Heights Historic District.

The Cathedral was calendared 51 years ago amidst questions about designating an unfinished building. The Cathedral itself supported designation at an LPC hearing 12 years ago. But neighbors convinced the City Council not to confirm the designation because parts of the Close had been de-calendared for development. The Conservancy supported designation then and did so again last Tuesday. (see testimony)

The massive building, which began construction in 1892, remains unfinished. The 11.3 acre Close now has residential buildings on the two de-calendared portions which provide income for Cathedral maintenance. The remaining grounds, with gardens and artwork, are open to the public daily.

Residents of Morningside Heights began petitioning the Landmarks Commission to designate a historic district a decade ago. They kept up the plea throughout the years. The Commission finally did respond, calendaring a district last year. The new district includes approximately 115 buildings–apartment houses, 19th century row houses, and the 1912 Broadway Presbyterian Church. The Conservancy testified in support. (see testimony)

Tourist In Your Own Town #15: Cathedral of Saint John the Divine from New York Landmarks Conservancy on Vimeo.