Letter from French Ambassador François Delattre to Mayor Bloomberg
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Save St. Vincent de Paul
Dear Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn and Chair Tierney,
The following request is of utmost importance to the French and Francophone communities of New York City and beyond. The most significant historic French building in New York City after the Statue of Liberty is soon to be destroyed—unless it is deservedly designated a New York City landmark. One cannot imagine why several requests for a Landmarks Commission hearing, from supporters including French President Nicholas Sarkozy, have as yet been ignored.
An exquisite example of the neoclassical style, providing fine examples of the work of acclaimed architects Henry Engelbert and Anthony J. DePace as well unique stained-glass windows depicting scenes from French history, St. Vincent De Paul Church at 123 West 23rd Street has already been declared eligible for landmark designation by the New York State Office of Historic Preservation.
Serving the diverse Francophone community of New York for 160 years, it remains to this day a vital part of French culture in the United States. Renowned for its ongoing tradition of social justice, St. Vincent de Paul was in fact the first school in New York City to integrate its classrooms—over 70 years before any other in the city. Today, the same church—which hosted Charles de Gaulle’s dedication of its veterans shrine, and the glamorous wedding of Edith Piaf—is attended by French-speakers hailing from Europe, Africa, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and beyond.
I join with President Sarkozy and all the members of the growing French and Francophone community here and abroad committed to this cause. We simply ask that the New York City Landmarks Commission hold a hearing and landmark this structure so symbolic of French-American relations and so important to French-speakers worldwide.
[P.S. Additional Comments, If Any]