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THE NEW YORK LANDMARKS CONSERVANCY November 11, 2015 ‘The Honorable Meenaskshi Srinivasan Chair New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission One Centre Street, Sth Floor New York, New York 10007 Re: Old St. James Parish Hall, 86-02 Broadway, Elmhurst Dear Meenaskshi: | am writing in response to the attached letter dated September 22, 2015 from Mary Meth Betts to State Senator Tony Avella, stating that Old St. James Parish Hall will not be recommended to the full Commission for designation as an individual landmark. The Conservancy urges you to reconsider this position, based on the reasons that are set forth below. Old St. James Parish Hall is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and dates from about 1735; it is the oldest vernacular Colonial Anglican structure in the City of New York. It still contains much of its original interior fabric, as Ms. Betts states in her letter. Instead of basing its consideration rejection on its exterior remodeling in 1883, one could readily deem this another period of significance for this structure as has been done for many other buildings that have experienced phases in their use and appearance. In 2003, the Conservancy provided a $150,000 loan and $45,000 in grants in conjunction with over $50,000 from the owner, and a $182,859 matching grant from the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation for a restoration of the exterior to its 1883 appearance. This project revealed and retained a great deal of historic fabric from 1883, including Gothic window mullions and sash, and shingle and clapboard siding and trim. As you understand, the State is extra vigilant in its funding of religious properties to ensure that it underwrites accurate restorative work that furthers historic preservation objectives and not those of worship. The State closely reviewed the plans and reports throughout the course of the project before disbursing its funds. Between the State's compelling interest and the Conservancy's participation in the $430,000 project, the 2003 campaign resulted in an historically genuine restoration of the Old St. James Parish Hall that by any measure would warrant landmarks designation. ‘ne White Sect, Mew Yor FY 10008 tah 21295 5260 fox 212895 S258 madmen * Additionally, St. James has an important social history: several of its parishioners were nationally prominent, among them the Reverend Dr. Benjamin Moore, the first president of Columbia University and the Reverend Dr. Samuel Seabury, Jr, the first American Episcopal Bishop. Additionally, St. James served as chapel for prominent British military officers during the Revolutionary War, a key to its survival (unlike the nearby Presbyterian church), including: Sir Henry Clinton, Sir William Howe, Earl Cornwallis, and King George Ill’s son William, later King William IV. ‘Thanks very much for your further consideration of this matter. Sincerely, Peg dreen President Enclosure cc: Hon. Tony Avella Mary Beth Betts Merrill Hesch Ruth L. Pierpont Landmarks Preservation Commission Meenaks chair Srinivasan Mary Beth Botts Director af Rosoarch mbetts@lpe ryeg0y 1 Centre Street 9 Floor North Now York, NY 10007 242.669 7801 tel 212.660 7818 ox September 22, 2015 Hon. Tony Avalta New York State Senate 38-50 Bell Boulevard Bayside, NY 11361 Re: Old St, James Parish Hall, 86-02 Broadway, Queens Dear State Senator Avella, ‘Thank you for your recent submission concerning the Old St. James Parish Hall, 86-02 Broadway. The agency has reviewed the property referenced above for consideration as a potential landmark. While the building was constructed in 1735-36 it was significanty remodeled in 1883 and was resided in the 20" century leaving little historic fabric on the exterior. The current appearance of the exterior of the building is a recreation of the 1883 remodeling, and only the heavy timber frame, rectangular massing and interior paneling and woodwork remain from the Colonial era. Due to these alterations the property will not be recommended to the full Commission for further consideration as an individual New York City Landmark. Although we acknowledge that the property referenced above is undoubtedly important to its congregation and to its community, we are sure you understand that in a city the size of New York, the committee must be extremely selective in the structures it proposes for landmark designation. ‘We thank you for your commitment to historic preservation and appreciate your interest in the work of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Sincerely, Wry Lite ears Mary Beth Betts