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Making the case to landmark this unique church on 4th Street

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Village Preservation is making a case to landmark the San Isidoro y San Leandro Western Orthodox Church of Hispanic Mozarabic Rite at 345 E. Fourth St. between Avenue C and Avenue D.

Tonight, officials from Village Preservation will request support for the reconsideration of landmark designation for the church before Community Board 3’s Landmarks Committee.

In response to information submitted by Village Preservation, the building was determined eligible for listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places in 2017. The group then submitted a request to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to consider landmarking the church. The LPC declined.

This fall, Village Preservation provided an extensive history of the church, which was built in 1891-92, on its blog Off the Grid. Here are excerpts…

This remarkably intact Gothic Revival church’s form, design, details, and history reflect the kaleidoscope of immigrants and ethnic groups which called the Lower East Side home and shaped New York over the last century and a quarter — making it not just architecturally significant but an embodiment of New York City’s and the East Village’s immigrant history.

and…

This structure was originally built in 1891-92 and designed by Edward Wenz for the Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, serving the surrounding Slovak and Hungarian immigrant community. The church was the first national Slovak parish for the Slovak and Hungarian Catholics of New York and Brooklyn. Later the building was bought by the Russian Greek Orthodox National Association and became the Carpathian Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas.

It served the emerging Russian immigrant community in the early and mid-twentieth century, as evidenced by the royal seal of the Russian Czars located on the church’s front gates. After 1975, the church housed San Isidoro y San Leandro Western Orthodox Catholic Church of Hispanic Mozarabic Rite, a highly unusual Western Orthodox Catholic Church – seemingly one of the very few in America, and one of the few or perhaps only to practice the Mozarabic Rite.

And…

Churches and synagogues such as these, located on single lot sites filling the space of what was once a single home, were once found throughout the East Village and Lower East Side. They were reflective of the incredibly modest resources but bold ambitions of the immigrant communities they served. Increasingly few such structures survive today. The East Village remains woefully under-landmarked and therefore valuable historic resources such as these churches and synagogues are vulnerable to insensitive alteration and demolition.

The three-story building arrived on the sales market in the fall of 2017 with a $6 million price tag. Per the listing at the time: “A new development (of 9,232 SF) could be residential single family/multi-family or Community Facility.” There were air rights too.

LoopNet shows that the listing was deactivated in April 2018.

According to public records, Patricio Cubillos Murillo (there are several variations of this name) is the building’s owner, with a deed dating to September 1975. The document on file with the city shows that this building changed hands for $6,000 that year. I do not know when the church last held any type of mass here.

Here are two photos of the interior that I took in 2011 during one of the weekend rummage sales held in the space…

… and here’s an interior shot via the Cushman & Wakefield marketing materials from 2017…

Tonight’s Landmarks Committee meeting is at 6:30 in the JASA/Green Residence, 200 E. Fifth St. at the Bowery.

Previously on EV Grieve:
Unique 4th Street church on the market for development





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