Sacred Sites Program

Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate

Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Westminster Presbyterian Church of Buffalo
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Westminster Presbyterian Spire
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Westminster Presbyterian Staff
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Westminster Presbyterian Spire
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
State Street United Methodist church in Fulton
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Dansville
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Restoration expert Valerie O’Hara of Pike Stained Glass at St. Paul's Lutheran Church
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Clara Barton Podium, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Summer Outside the City – Sacred Sites Upstate
Clara Barton Sign, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church

Summer 2014

As part of the Conservancy’s Sacred Sites grant program, our staff visits dozens of religious institutions across the state each year, to assess buildings firsthand, encourage the hiring of skilled architects, engineers and contractors, and meet with congregants determined to save their beloved buildings.

Program Director Ann Friedman and Grants Manager Colleen Heemeyer travel statewide each summer and winter, splitting the state east and west. Twenty-six site visits were scheduled this summer – ranging from the 800-member, 1858 Westminster Presbyterian Church of Buffalo, which is working with HHL Architects to restore its 200’ slate spire and multiple church roofs, to the Upjohn-designed country Gothic Christ Episcopal Church in Greenville, in the northern Catskills, with 125 members, which is working with Albany based Landmark Consulting to design repairs to its cedar shingle roof.

Heemeyer explains, “In Greenville, we discussed how a Conservancy grant will help the church hire a preservation architect to plan and prioritize a phased roof replacement project. The church knows that it has limited resources and won’t be able to accomplish this $100,000 project without significant fundraising. Our grant, and Landmarks Consulting’s work will allow the church time to undertake a multi-year fundraising campaign, and I was able to share some best practices we’ve gleaned from other sites’ fundraising ideas.”

“The site visit was delightful! We found it very helpful and positive. What Colleen told us, and her honesty about the situation was appreciated by everyone there, and it’s going to direct us as we move forward with the roofing project.”
-Russell Kratz at Christ Episcopal Church in Greenville

At Westminster in Buffalo, Conservancy staff inspected leaking slate roofs, but also toured an important church mission project, Buffalo’s West Side Bazaar, a commercial market space which has incubated 50 small businesses launched by immigrants and refugees from Rwanda, South Sudan, Peru, Indonesia, with the help of micro-loans and business mentoring. Westminster’s operations and development director Monique Brannon notes, “The opportunity of the Conservancy’s matching grants for restoration help facilitate our ability to serve the Buffalo community through our missions and programs.”

At State Street United Methodist church in Fulton, northwest of Syracuse, Barbara Camic, co-chair of the restoration committee, convinced the local lumber yard to donate new roof shingle at cost, and recruited a competitive bid from an experienced contractor fifty miles north, helping reduce roof and tower restoration costs substantially, while working with, and raising funds to pay, Syracuse architecture firm Holmes King Kallquist. Camic compares working with an experienced preservation architect to ensure expert and long-lived roof repairs to consulting a skilled physician to maintain good health. About her proactive cost reduction efforts, Camic says, “We have others to answer to. What would it be like if [after a 3 year capital campaign and expensive repairs] the roof still leaked? How could I face my fellow congregants otherwise?”

Visiting with board members and clergy, we learn the history of the state and the remarkable characters that have populated it. At St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Dansville, 40 miles south of Rochester, Friedman was shown the Romanesque podium at which Clara Barton spoke in 1881, launching the first local chapter of the American Red Cross. After inspecting bowing stained glass with restoration expert Valerie O’Hara of Pike Stained Glass, St. Paul’s financial secretary Ken Mountzouros related the story of the church’s recently restored window, attributed to John La Farge. The handsome figural window was donated by Dansville resident Alonzo J. Whiteman, about whom an 1899 New York Times article was headlined “Notorious Character Once More Charged with Swindling. TOOK BAIL FROM HIS BOOT. Strange Career and Adventures of Man Who Was Twice Elected a State Senator and Ran for Congress.”

Ann Friedman notes, “These trips always remind us of the remarkable beauty and variety of religious architecture throughout New York. We’re inspired and energized by the dedicated volunteers who work year round to keep these institutions in good repair, so they can continue serving their communities.” And she adds “While the summer is a lovely time to tour the state, we’ve also been caught in blizzards and hailstorms! But seeing how dedicated, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic our grant applicants are, it’s the least we can do.”