Three borough churches will be participating in the New York Landmarks Preservation Conservancy’s annual Sacred Sites Open House that celebrates the architecture, history and traditions of houses of worship all over the state on Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19.
The conservancy will feature Christ Church Riverdale at 5040 Henry Hudson Parkway, Riverdale Presbyterian Church at 4765 Henry Hudson Parkway and St. James Episcopal Church at 2500 Jerome Avenue as part of its weekend dedicated to this year’s theme: ‘Medieval to Modern: Celebrating New York’s Religious Art and Architecture.’
“New York has a rich and diverse array of religious architecture,” said Peg Breen, NY LPC president.
The conservancy, which has provided grants and technical assistance to maintain and restore houses of worship since 1986, first began hosting the open house weekends in 2011, and Ann Friedman, NY LPC’s director of its sacred sites program, said the weekends proved so successful they became annual events.
“All three (Bronx) churches are interrelated,” said Freidman. “They are all gothic revival, all 19th century, all Victorian, and they all have lovely windows and stone masonry.”
The three churches from the borough are all by well-know architects of the 19th century: Richard Upjohn at Christ Church Riverdale, James Renwick at Riverdale Presbyterian Church and Henry Dudley at St. James Episcopal Church, she said.
“These architects knew of each of other and would have been under consideration for the same projects,” said Friedman, adding that they were influenced by the medieval English Gothic architecture.
The two Riverdale churches are across the road from one another, and they are churches in beautifully landscaped settings, constructed with local stone and have slate roofs, she said.
Fr. Andrew Butler, Christ Church Riverdale rector, said that the church has been participating for years.
“It always a privilege for us to be able to open our doors even more than they are already open,” said Butler, adding that the church is a beautiful space architecturally designed by Upjohn, who also designed Trinity Church Wall Street.
A pre-booked guided tour will be held on Saturday, May 18 from 11:30 a.m. to noon and will highlight a window donated in memory of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and altar rail donated by Babe Ruth in honor of parishioner and Yankees hero Lou Gehrig.
Riverdale Presbyterian Church, a short walk from Christ Church Riverdale, will be open for self-guided tour from noon to 3 p.m. both days, and there will be an 11 a.m. choral mass on Sunday.
Patricia Gourdine, a Riverdale Presbyterian parishioner and church elder, said that the same architect who worked on St. Patrick’s Cathedral designed the church.
St. James in Fordham will be open that Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is known for its Tiffany stained glass windows.