Bed-Stuy church receives 'sacred sites’ restoration grant

Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant has received a Robert W. Wilson Sacred Sites Challenge Grant from the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

This is one of 13 Sacred Sites grants from the Conservancy, totaling $200,000, that have recently been given to historic religious properties across New York state. Brown Memorial Church is getting a $40,000 challenge grant to assist with the restoration of its Tiffany window.

“Religious institutions are worth saving for their beauty and history alone,” said Peg Breen, president of The New York Landmarks Conservancy. “But maintaining them also allows congregations to provide social service, educational and cultural programs to the wider community.  That’s why the Landmarks Conservancy has been proud to help restore hundreds of religious buildings throughout the state for more than 25 years.”

Designed by Brooklyn resident Ebenezer Roberts and constructed in 1860 as the Washington Avenue Baptist Church, the building is an example of the Romanesque Revival style. The red brick structure dominates the corner of Washington and Gates avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and it features brownstone pinnacles, a fortress-like tower and several large Tiffany-stained glass windows.  

A comprehensive interior restoration, along with roof replacement, was completed in 2011. The congregation that occupies this sanctuary moved here in 1958.

The interior of the sanctuary of the Brown Memorial Baptist Church, as seen from the rear balcony.

Brown Memorial Baptist Church has a large and active membership. The congregation provides many community services, including a food pantry and senior and youth programs. Health advisory meetings, emergency housing and legal services are also among the ministries offered here. The church hosts meetings for neighborhood committees, school groups and clubs.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy has helped to preserve and protect New York City’s architectural legacy for 40 years. Since its founding, it has loaned and granted more than $40 million, which has leveraged more than $1 billion in 1,550 restoration projects throughout New York. The Conservancy has also offered countless hours of pro bono technical advice to building owners.  

Applications for the next round of Sacred Sites grants must be postmarked by June 1, 2014. For more information, readers may visit www.nylandmarks.org.

Gifts from the late Robert W. Wilson, for whom the Robert W. Wilson Sacred Sites Challenge Grants are named, helped 120 religious institutions across the state with major restoration projects.