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First Presbyterian Church of Williamsbridge and Immaculate Conception Church, along with private homes in City Island and Riverdale, up for review

Five buildings may be landmarked

Bronx Times
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Several historic buildings that have been in landmarks limbo for decades will finally get an “up” or “down” vote on their future from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Five Bronx buildings may be enshrined into immortality when the LPC meets on Tuesday, February 23 to take votes on 95 backlogged buildings citywide that have been considered for decades, some since around the time of the commission’s creation in 1965, according to an LPC spokeswoman.

The structures include three private houses: 65 Schofield Street on City Island; Samuel D. Babcock House at 5525 Independence Avenue and 6 Ploughman’s Bush, both in Riverdale.

Two churches, First Presbyterian Church of Williamsbridge at 730 E. 225th Street and Immaculate Conception Church at 378 E. 151st Street in Melrose, are also being considered.

Official Bronx Borough Historian Lloyd Ultan made the case in favor of several of the possible landmarks, while passing up on others because they were too altered from their original splendor.

Ultan said that both churches harken back to when different ethnic groups lived in their respective areas.

Immaculate Conception Church was built in the 1880s when the community was overwhelmingly German, and at one point boasted the largest spire in the borough before the copper structure had to be removed a couple of decades ago, said Ultan.

It was built as a Romaniquese Revival Structure, he said, which means it is essentially a replica of Medieval European architecture.

“It is one of the few remaining structures of significance that remains from when the area was overwhelmingly German,” he said.

First Presbyterian was built by Scottish immigrants, and is a striking structure that looks a bit like an “oniondome,” said Ultan.

“It is a monument to a past that has gone,” he said of the Williamsbridge church. “Whenever you go into that area and you pass by it, you cannot take your eyes off it.”

Ultan believes that landmark status can provide a talking point for real estate agents and actually increases the value of the property in many cases.

The borough historian also believes the City Island private home is worth landmarking.

City Island historian Tom Nye confirmed the historical significance of the Schofield Street house, which he said belonged to William Schofield, one of the prominent landowners in the 1800s who lived on the island.

“The Schofields were farmers on the island…they were also involved in oystering,” he said. “There is a popular map from 1867 or so, and I’ve got to believe that the Schofield house on that map is this house.”

He added that the Schofields owned several homes on the island.

They were one of the first families whose respective trading, businesses and wealth led to the development of City Island, said Nye.

Ultan said that, in his opinion, the two west Bronx houses were too altered from their original designs to become landmarked.

LPC hearings are usually held at 1 Centre Street in Manhattan, and often run from about 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, visit the LPC website at: www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/html/home/home.shtm.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Updated 5:02 pm, July 9, 2018
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