109 East 50th Street, aka 325 Park Avenue, bet. Park and Lexington Avenues, St. Bartholomew's Church and Community House, application to replace decorative mosaic roof at the dome.
WHEREAS, An application has been submitted which requests permission to restore and re-clad the dome of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church, located at 325 Park Avenue, between East 50th Street and East 51st Street, which was designated an individual landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1967; and
WHEREAS, Construction of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church - which has been called "a jewel in a monumental setting" - started in 1916, based on the Byzantine designs of the renowned architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue, and had been completed sufficiently for the church to be consecrated in 1918; and
WHEREAS, Additional construction continued over the next decade, during which time designs were altered, particularly after Goodhue unexpectedly passed away in 1924, and the site expansion was assumed by his office associates, in partnership as Mayers, Murray & Phillips, who would oversee the project through completion by 1930; and
WHEREAS, The design of St. Bartholomew's domed roof is inspired from adaptations of the Byzantine style found in Venice and was installed in 1930, as a substitute for a spire that had been planned, but never built; and
WHEREAS, The dome's construction is a composition of limestone ribs containing intricately decorative tile cladding of terra cotta, marble and granite; and
WHEREAS, St. Bartholomew's dome has been subject to eight decades of harsh freeze-thaw conditions inherent to the climate of the Northeast, as well as acid rain that at the time had been typical in New York City, and the dome's cladding continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate; and
WHEREAS, Since terra cotta, marble and granite expand and contract at dissimilar rates, this has caused tiles to come loose at the joints, become cracked, and on occasion fall off, and due to the existence of open voids in its surface, several areas of the dome have been penetrated by vegetation growth; and
WHEREAS, In surveying and documenting the existing conditions, the restoration architects have recorded and cataloged an entire panel of the dome by producing rubbings with paper and crayon, scanning them into a computer and converting them into AutoCAD drawings, which documentation proved necessary for recording the many various shapes that make up the unique design of the dome; and
WHEREAS, The applicant proposes to remove all of the existing dome cladding and to replace this in five colors of terra cotta, manufactured in the many shapes that make up the design and shades which will match those of the existing terra cotta, marble and granite and which will exceed the compressive strength and will have a lower absorption rate than the original because of the special firing techniques used today; and
WHEREAS, Existing limestone ribs and existing granite base would be removed, salvaged, cleaned and re-installed, and existing mission style terra cotta roof tiles would be removed and replaced with exact replications; and
WHEREAS, Community Board Five believes that recreation of the Byzantine style dome cladding in the medium of terra cotta will ensure the beauty and durability for generations to come; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends approval of the application to restore and re-clad the dome of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church.
The above resolution passed by a vote of 25 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining.