Marble Collegiate Church

New York, New York
Collegiate Church Corporation

Marble Collegiate Church selected Helpern Architects to restore, renovate, and modernize “America’s Hometown Church,” a multi-phase, multi-million project. The 21,000-sf landmarked church – constructed in 1854 on Fifth Avenue just beyond the limits of the growing city – is of early Romanesque Revival style with Gothic trim. Its façade is of Tuckahoe marble, which gives the church its name.

Helpern’s interventions on the roof and the storied interior increased the longevity of the structure and décor without changing historic elements. This work also reorganized and enlarged the underused Concourse level, adding a new chapel and event space beneath the Sanctuary.

Helpern Architects undertook the master plan to improve the church and its adjacent administrative building in 1999, and also to determine the best use of its property and site. An extensive inspection of the building preceded this final work, which began in earnest in early 2010.

To ensure the integrity of the historic structure during excavation and reconstruction, temporary steel beams were added below grade for support.

Light-weight synthetic slate shingles acceptable to the NYC Landmarks Commission replaced the prior asphalt roof, which has also received its first-ever insulation. The original wood trusses and purlins were stabilized by “sister” steel beams added on either side, so the steel now supports the roof and the wood supports only the ceiling below.

The Sanctuary was refreshed with plaster repairs and decorative finishes on the ceiling, and new lighting. Movable scaffolding made it possible to work during the week but clear the space for Sunday services.

Lateral excavation on the Concourse level made room for new heating and cooling systems. The main features of this level are a new marble-walled small chapel that seats 70 and a new function room with a permanent labyrinth inlaid in terrazzo on the floor.

Photos: © Brian Rose
Renderings: Helpern Architects