Fate of St. Saviour's Still Undecided - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the September 2006 Juniper Berry Magazine

Fate of St. Saviour's Still Undecided

St. Saviour's in 2005.

You are probably wondering what went on over the past few months with regards to St. Saviour's Church in West Maspeth. JPCA has had a busy summer fighting to save the church.

St. Saviour's Summer Timeline:

May 15th, 2006: JPCA, West Maspeth Local Development Corporation, former St. Saviour's parishioners and adjacent property owners obtained a temporary restraining order from New York State Supreme Court against Maspeth Development, LLC, which prevented them from proceeding with their planned demolition of St. Saviour's Church complex.

June 7th, 2006: JPCA was successful in court and the temporary restraining order halting the demolition of St. Saviour's Church complex was extended until the judge makes her ruling.

June 29th, 2006: The appellate division denied Maspeth Development, LLC's request to overturn the temporary restraining order until a ruling was made by the lower court.

July 10th, 2006: St. Saviour's 1.5-acre property was listed as 'for sale' with an asking price of $10 million!

July 15th, 2006: JPCA posts an online petition to the Mayor asking him to save St. Saviour's. So far, we have collected hundreds of signatures asking the Mayor to step in and save the church.

July 24th, 2006: Judge dismisses St. Saviour's lawsuit. JPCA is considering further court action in order to save this piece of our history. A Department of Buildings stop-work order on the property remains in place.

August 1st, 2006: Christabel Gough, Society for the Architecture of the City, submits new evidence to Landmarks Preservation Commission which shows that most of the original St. Saviour's buildings remain intact despite the 1970 fire and subsequent alterations. In other words, the fire was not as extensive as previously believed.

August 7th, 2006: Fredric Bell, Executive Director of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, wrote a letter to the LPC asking them to calendar St. Saviour's. William Gati, President of AIA Queens, previously submitted a letter from his own chapter asking for calendaring of the property. Richard Upjohn, a founder of AIA, designed St. Saviour's in 1847.

Also on August 7th, Councilman Dennis Gallagher sent a letter to LPC Chair Robert Tierney asking him to calendar the property at LPC's public meeting on August 15th. Unfortunately, the last public meeting of the summer was August 8th.

August 11th, 2006: Councilman Tony Avella wrote a letter to LPC Chair Tierney asking him to calendar the church at LPC's next public meeting in September.

September 7th, 2006: Councilman Eric Gioia added his support for calendaring of the property in a letter addressed to LPC Chair Tierney.

JPCA is calling on all of our public office holders to help save this church. We have done our job ‒ demolition has been halted, the property is for sale, and now it's time for our representatives to do what we elected them to do. In the meantime, the Committee to Save St. Saviour's continues to work hard to save this precious piece of Maspeth history and refuses to stop fighting!

Please log on to the internet and add your comments to our petition to Mayor Bloomberg.

www.petitiononline.com /Juniper1

Here is a sample of what has already been posted on the petition:

I live in a city where historic places are deemed to be a nuisance rather than gems to use as teaching tools. We lost an enormous chunk of our larger structures in the 80's and 90's including our first railway building and first skyscraper right in the heart of the city. Please don't make the same hasty mistakes as Edmonton Canada did. Preserve your history for those who have yet to enjoy and learn from them.

‒ Chris Escott

Please don't let this beautiful piece of NYC history become just another McCondo address!

‒ Betsy Eyring

If Bloomberg keeps giving a free hand to developers this city will be nothing but big, ugly buildings! ‒ Michael Armstrong

It is important that we listen to the people of this city and the neighborhood and that such an historic area could be lost is a mistake; it's a mistake in Queens, and would be a mistake too if it was in Manhattan. We've got to stop being a throwaway city and start realizing the last few treasures we still have. The answer is not to tear it down the answer is let it live and let the community redevelop it. ‒ Robert Fenton

We need to save this church. The city has lost too much to rampant overdevelopment in the past few years. Please don't let this one fall by the wayside. ‒ Michael Tricarico

Maspeth just wouldn't be the same without St. Saviour's. Please rededicate this gift.

‒ Catherine Sundbye

Queens is being destroyed by overdevelopment! Why is nothing in the outer boroughs worth anything? I suppose if this was in Manhattan it wouldn't even be an issue.

‒ Karen Wagner

Mayor Mike, please do whatever is required to save this valuable piece of NY history. ‒ Rev. Robert Subjenski

Mr. Mayor, you have the opportunity to show that you haven't completely turned your back on Queens. Please save St. Saviour's! ‒ Victoria Kahn

The powers that be have saved less significant structures. Please save this one for the people of Maspeth, who have had everything else around them ripped down. ‒ T. Palumbo

Save this property from the predatory developers who ruin neighborhoods, rather than improve or unite them. ‒ William Leahy

More than ever, with the onslaught of development, communities need park areas to enhance the quality of their lives and the neighborhood. ‒ Monica Abels Stabin

Please purchase this historic site and noble architectural treasure to keep them safely within the fabric of our heritage or, if that prospect fails, exercise positive eminent domain to the same wise purpose and result. This strong request is sent with sincere respect for your position as Mayor of our City and protector of its history. – Diane Russell

The history of Maspeth is steadily being buried by contractors and developers. There is next to nothing left of our very historic town. Please don't take this away from the people of Maspeth and the City of New York. – Christine DeJesus

Screw the corporate/political B*** S***; we are not namby pambies here in Maspeth. I foresee a Robert Moses oops, we should have listened disaster for the future of all Queens if this church is not honored and preserved as it was meant to be. ‒ John P. Felle

Dear Mayor Bloomberg: My Grandparents were residents of Maspeth from 1922 to their passing in the early '50's. My and my wife's families also resided in Maspeth until their passing several years ago. We ourselves lived in Maspeth until we moved to Flushing in the late '80's, but still have relatives and friends living there. All of us have treasured St. Saviour's Church and strongly feel that it would be a disgrace that this structure, which is historically and architecturally significant, were to be destroyed for the sake of developmental progress. All areas of the City have been suffering from excess overdevelopment of the past 10-15 years, which is responsible for the many problems we now incur as a result of the excessive strains placed on our infrastructure from this overdevelopment. For all of these reasons, I implore you to use your position as our Chief Elected Official to help save this important structure from destruction, and preserve it for future generations. ‒ Richard Paschel

It is the responsibility of our chief administrator to protect the collective history that we find in our glorious historical buildings for future generations. There is no history to be found in high priced modern luxury condos. Only short term profit for the developer. Please stop the destruction of the glorious history of NYC for crass immediate profit that serves no one but shareholders and developers. ‒ Lucy Koteen

I'm sadly amazed that a site of such historical importance to the area should even be in danger of destruction. Please save St. Saviour's. ‒ Daryl Holton

Please make sure our heritage is not sold to the highest bidder. Please preserve our beloved Maspeth. God Bless America! Maspeth is America!! ‒ Fred Coltrinari

Children need to know their history. Give St. Saviour's to the COMMUNITY. Stop tearing down the past. It is a disgrace what was torn down in Queens. We lost Niederstein's. We can not afford to lose anymore of our local history. ‒ Theresa Kunda

The idea of building a community around a park is as old as St. Saviour's itself: in the 19th century the city had the vision to create Central Park in Manhattan. Maspeth deserves to keep its historic church and open space for a new community center. – Christabel Gough

Mr. Mayor, we cannot afford to lose another historical site and open land to developers who have no interest in the quality of life of surrounding residents. It is those residents that fought long and hard to make their neighborhood a place where people want to be, and thus attractive to the very developers who now seek to destroy it. The last thing that this Queens neighborhood needs is overbuilt, overpriced, shoddily constructed modern tenements that stress existing infrastructure and deplete resources. Additionally, the original covenants and intent for this land was open space, and this must be honored. ‒ Andrea Crawford

As is often the case with true progress, less is more. This case is no different – less development will add more green space, greater awareness of Maspeth's long and rich cultural history and it will also send an important message to developers about the importance of history versus the importance of the almighty dollar. Please find a way to save St. Saviour's from the wrecking ball of this developer. ‒ Brian Finneran

Enough of the tearing down of historic sites. This church should be restored and protected under heritage designations. We lose, as a society, if we don't preserve our history and just pave it over with concrete or build high-rise condos everywhere. Where are the green places of respite that connect us to our past? – Brigitte Lafferty

Architecturally significant and beautiful churches such as St. Saviour's are not demolished in Europe. Please use that as your model to preserve this one. ‒ Joan Diner

Too much of our open space and history has already been lost. Here's an opportunity to be good to our city and our people. – Gary T. Farkash

I've lived in Maspeth most of my life, it's a great community. I worked not far from St. Saviour's and would pass it often. It was over grown with weeds then but I often wondered what a beautiful church it was. Please save this place and make it a landmark for our children. Bring it back to what it was. I now live in Brooklyn but still miss this place. Please Mister Mayor save it, and to all in Maspeth, God Bless. – Michael Dowd

This is one of those rare historical gems that's absolutely worthy of every possible protection and should definitely be preserved. Mayor Bloomberg, I hope you agree and act accordingly. – Fred Gutnick

Save St. Saviour's and the property around it for the benefit of the people. Queens as well as Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx must not be overlooked for potential landmark and park sites. ‒ Henry Euler

It's high time that Maspeth had a well deserved park/museum/cultural-community use center. Let's not hear it that there's no money from the city. Your Honor, if you have to buy it personally, please do it! You've given enough to your Alma Mater, Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore; please give this treasured location to New York City (the place where your heart and home are). The people will love you for your philanthropy. I really think, however, that NYC has the meager 10 million asking price to buy the property outright and transfer it through the Parks Department. ‒ Jerry Rotondi

I read about St. Saviours plight while serving here in Afghanistan. It would be nice to preserve it for future generations; they deserve to see it for themselves. ‒ William Grodnick