165 West 105th Street (West End Presbyterian Church)


165 West 105th Street (West End Presbyterian Church)

 

Date:  1891

Type:  Church

Architect:  Henry Kilburn

NYC Landmarks Designation:  Wish List

Primary Style:   Romanesque Revival

Façade (primary material):  Sandstone

Wish List: Current Wish List

At the same time as architect Henry F. Kilburn was completing work on West-Park Presbyterian Church on Amsterdam Avenue at 86th Street, he was creating another masterpiece 20 blocks north. The names are easy to confuse, but West-Park and West End Presbyterian are studies in contrast. The two structures follow similar forms, each strongly marking its corner with a soaring bell tower and its openings with bold, round Romanesque arches. Yet West End Presbteryan on West 104th Street has a softer presence, using light-yellow, speckled brick with matching, intricately detailed terra-cotta banding in place of West-Park’s robust, rusticated, deep-red sandstone. A 1900 article in The Brickbuilder noted West End’s ornament featuring “the classical fret and honeysuckle, the Norman zigzag, the spiral angles found in early French Renaissance, and the lozenged shafts of Venetian Gothic.” The author raves, “Indeed, the several components are so placed that a latent affinity seems to spring up where, in less skilfull hands, incongruity might have been expected. Whether viewed as a whole, or as to the relationship of its parts, there is hardly a discordant note in what is virtually an original composition.” Both churches were commissioned to accomodate the Upper West Side’s rapidly growing Presbyterian flock. In fact, West End Presbyterian once housed the largest Presbyterian congregation in New York City.

 

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