165 West 86th Street (West-Park Presbyterian Church)


165 West 86th Street (West-Park Presbyterian Church)

 

Date:  1884 (original chapel), 1890 (addition:  the church)

Type:  Church

Architect:  Leopold Eidlitz (original chapel), Henry Kilburn (addition: the church)

NYC Landmark Designation:  Individual Landmark

Landmark Designation Report:  West-Park Presbyterian Church

Primary Style:  Richardsonian Revival

Façade (primary material):  Red Sandstone

Wish List:  Wishes Come True

Additional Information

The West-Park Presbyterian Church was designed to stand out in the neighborhood – its dramatic bell tower a beacon to worshipers, and its boldly massed, red sandstone façade keeping step with the fashion of the time. Indeed, West-Park may be the only example of a Richardsonian Revival-style church to survive in Manhattan. The robust stonework and heavy round arches reflect the popularity of medieval Romanesque forms, while the use of Lake Superior red stone trimmed with Longmeadow brownstone, a magnificent material on no other known religious structures, reveals a new interest in earth-toned materials in the 1880s. These elements combine to create a building of singular power, unquestionably one of the most beautiful religious structures on the Upper West Side. West-Park began as two separate congregations that merged in order to accomodate the neighborhood’s growing population. The Park Church, on West End Avenue and 84th Street, purchased the prominent corner site on 86th Street in 1882. The congregation quickly outgrew a chapel built to the east of the corner and designed by Leopold Eidlitz, one of New York’s most important 19th-century architects (sadly almost all of his buildings have been demolished). Henry F. Kilburn was commissioned to design a new church, incorporating Eidlitz’s chapel and recladding its façade in 1889. West-Park was formed in 1911 when Park Presbyterian Church, merged with West Presbyterian Church, then on West 42nd Street. As of this writing, the church is closed and under imminent threat of demolition.

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