Sacred Sites Open House

Sacred Sites Open House May 18-19, 2019


-Bronx Christ Church Riverdale


-Brooklyn Moslem Mosque Inc.


-Manhattan Rutgers Presbyterian


-Staten Island St Peters RC Church


-Buffalo, Temple Beth Zion


-Long Island Bridgehampton Presbyterian Church

Thousands of New Yorkers and visitors took advantage of a sunny weekend to tour more than 150 religious institutions across the State who opened their doors for our ninth annual Sacred Sites Open House. From pre-booked tours, to people who just saw an open door and stepped in, participants were treated to the history, beauty, and diversity of New York’s remarkable religious architecture. They also heard about the range of cultural and social service programs these institutions provide.

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Our great thanks to all the participating congregations and their wonderful volunteers…to our colleague organizations who co-sponsored with us…and to all of you who became “tourists in your own towns” and discovered the architectural and cultural riches around you. We’re thrilled with all the wonderful pictures we’ve received.
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Open House Included Many First-Time Participating Sites and Events
The ninth annual Sacred Sites Open House Weekend May 18- 19, 2019, showcased the broad spectrum of historical periods, faith traditions, and styles of religious architecture around New York State. The weekend’s theme: From Medieval to Modern: Celebrating New York’s Religious Art and Architecture was a great success inspiring a number of ‘firsts’ including a pre-booked tour far away from New York City at Temple Beth Zion in Buffalo. The 2019 theme inspired another Buffalo site, Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic Church, to feature a display of the three churches in Pavia, Italy that were models for their look-alike 12th Century Lombard Romanesque edifice, a creative approach resulting in the site’s largest visitor turnout ever. Other ‘firsts’ included the participation of a New York City mosque, Moslem Mosque, Inc., in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that offered guided tours and a scavenger hunt organized by Rutgers Presbyterian Church on Manhattan’s West Side that attracted dozens of families and individuals. There were thirty-two first-time participating sites including those from the New York City boroughs of Manhattan Brooklyn and Queens, and from upstate and Long Island locales including Albany, Albion, Auburn, Boonville, Buffalo, Cortland, DeLancey, Delhi, Geneseo, Newburgh, Northport, Oneida, Poughkeepsie, Rome, Saugerties, Seneca Falls, Stony Point, Troy, and Watertown. All pre-booked tours at the ten New York City sites were filled to capacity attracting 300-plus visitors.

At United Palace, a first-time participating site located in Manhattan’s Washington Heights, Atlanta resident Marjorie K. visiting with New York friend, Joyce F., said she was “awestruck by the grandeur of the fifty-foot movie screen and velvet-covered seats surrounded by beyond-Baroque bling.” Joyce praised the venue’s “astonishing grandeur and detail.”

Two dozen visitors enjoyed a guided tour of picturesque Gothic Revival landmark Christ Church in Riverdale where they particularly enjoyed learning that the altar rail had been donated by Babe Ruth in memory of Grace Church member and neighbor, Lou Gehrig.

A three-generation Poughkeepsie family saw the Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Open House announcement posted in a local paper and planned a rendezvous in the Bronx, travelling together to the three Bronx churches—Christ Church, Riverdale Presbyterian and St. James Fordham.

Jennifer, a Chicago native and one-year resident of Manhattan, heard about the Sacred Sites Open House tours while on a Municipal Arts Society-sponsored program. She joined the Scavenger Hunt on Saturday; the Queens Historical Society Flushing Walking tour on Sunday morning, and the featured tour of newly redecorated, Art Deco-filled, Blessed Sacrament Church in Jackson Heights Sunday afternoon. “I’m so glad the Conservancy organized this Sacred Sites Open House,” she enthused. New York Deco-philes Bob and Harriet termed the Blessed Sacrament tour “magnifico!”

In addition to guided tours and music, Trinity Memorial Church, Binghamton, displayed a story board on High Victorian Gothic Architecture.

A New York City visitor was delighted that there was “someone nice and interesting at every site—in fact, the volunteers were often as interesting as the sites themselves.”

Smithfield Presbyterian Church, Amenia, used the year’s art theme to create a children’s art project. Children of all ages were invited to contribute to a 15-foot long stretch of mural paper on the community room wall attracting artists ranging from a ninth-grader to three toddlers.

A visitor who learned about the program from the Conservancy website and email went to eight never-visited-before sites, joining programs both Saturday and Sunday and being “particularly dazzled” by St. Vincent Ferrer on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

“Worth every minute,” reported a visitor to Staten Island sites Church of St. Andrew, Calvary Presbyterian Church and Immanuel Lutheran Church. Staten Islanders Lisa and Eugene C. noted that “not realizing how rich with history Staten Island is, it was a pleasure learning all of this great information from Glen and the New York Landmarks Conservancy. We’re grateful to the Conservancy for enlightening us with the history of our hometown. ”