Century-old St. Anselm receives restoration funding

The Church of Saint Anselm is seeking benefactors for exterior and interior renovations to its Byzantine Revival style church on Tinton Avenue. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Photo courtesy of NY Landmarks Conservancy

A 100-year-old local church with some unique architecture for the borough has received a grant for building renovations and repairs.

The Church of St. Anselm in Melrose, part of the merged St. Anselm and St. Roch Parish, has received a $40,000 grant from the New York Landmarks Conservancy Sacred Sites Awards for repairs to the exterior of the rare Byzantine Revival-style church on Tinton Avenue.

The church building, with its towering domed ceiling and original artwork from its construction a century ago, will see exterior repairs as a result of the grant, and according to its pastor is still seeking benefactors for both interior and exterior renovations.

Fr. Enrique Salvo said that the church, which was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2014, serves as a place of beauty to some in the parish community who may not get to experience as much beauty as others do in their daily lives.

“Not only the architecture itself but also the artwork is really unique,” said Salvo. “The style of the church is very important…it is not very common and only a few places in the world have it.”

Inside the building are paintings that remind a viewer of Renaissance-style artwork, though some have been repainted or are not originals, said the pastor.

According to Peg Breen, president of the NY Landmarks Conservancy, the style of the building, which was built by German monks, is more like those that are typically found in Istanbul, Turkey than the borough.

“This is a spectacular church,” said Breen, adding it is unusual to see a Byzantine Revival structure in the city.

Beyond the Sacred Sites grant, which over the past few decades have been given to many of the borough’s churches, Breen said her organization helped get the building put on the national and state historic registries, making them eligible for the grant.

The interior of St. Anselm and St. Roch’s Church is seen here.
Photo courtesy of St. Anselm and St. Roch’s Church

Her organization is helping with a fundraising effort with an ultimate goal of $2.8 million, she said.

“The main objective now is the restoration of the building,” said Breen. “We cannot work on the art until the building is in good shape.”

The church is modeled on Hagia Sophia, a former church and mosque in Istanbul that is now a museum, said Breen.

In addition to the grant, the fundraising is ongoing, according to the pastor.

“The people of St. Anselm have been very enthusiastic,” said Breen. “They care for their religious life, their community.”

The church is a perfect example of how religious buildings “mark the land,” she said, and that a person doesn’t have to be religious to appreciate these structures which not only serve as religious centers but also reach thousands of people a year for various community activities.

“We are grateful that the Landmarks Conservancy not only recognizes the historic nature of churches like St. Anselm’s, but, by their support, helps to enable them to continue to fulfill its mission of serving the people of the community and provide them with a house of prayer as well,” said Joseph Zwilling, Archdiocese of New York spokesman in a statement.

Salvo said that the congregation is growing and the church provides the parishioners with a place of beauty.

One of the church’s historic paintings is seen here.
Photo courtesy of St. Anselm and St. Roch’s parish

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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