Landmarking Effort: Timeline
Since 2002, when word first began to circulate that this historic church might be slated for closure, supporters have worked to save this important landmark and center of the French and French-speaking community. The church has remained open thus far, though the City of New York has not responded to three formal applications from the community and a formal request from French president Nicholas Sarkozy to hold a landmarks preservation commission hearing to landmark the church.
Now, a renewed declaration of imminent closure by the Archdiocese—underscored by its refusal to allow supporter funds to be spent on needed repairs—has forced an urgent redoubling of high-level efforts to protect St. Vincent de Paul. The timeline below details efforts leading to this point:
- The Archdiocese announces plans to close St. Vincent de Paul. Because the parish is vibrant and growing, many believe the decision is fueled by a desire to sell the Chelsea property on which the church and its two ancillary structures stand for development.
- The first submission of St. Vincent de Paul to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission for consideration is made by preservationist Hansel Hernandez-Navarro. October 31, 2006.
- New York State Historic Preservation Office concludes after evaluation that St. Vincent de Paul is eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. January 11, 2007
- Save St. Vincent de Paul, Inc., a 501(c)(3) charitable organization is formed with a mission to preserve the historic church and develop a viable plan for maintaining it into the future.
- The landmarks hearing request submitted in 2007 by preservationist Hansel Hernandez-Navarro to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission is turned down by the staff of the LPC, who declined to bring the request to the full Commission for a hearing. July 13, 2007
- Save St. Vincent de Paul, Inc. sends a bound book of letters attesting to the extraordinary architectural, historical and cultural value of the church to the French and Francophile communities, and to New York City—from distinguished individuals representing the French business, cultural and political communities—to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and all elected officials representing the district.
- Respected preservation attorney Al Butzel of the Urban Environmental Law Center (“UELC”) joins the effort to seek a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing for St. Vincent de Paul.
- Under the advisement of UELC, a second submission to request landmarking is made to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission by longtime parishioner and advocate Olga Statz of Save St. Vincent de Paul. December 2007
- The submission to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission by Olga Statz is again turned down by LPC staff without any opportunity for consideration by the full Commission, on February 25, 2008.
- Manhattan Community Board 4, in whose district the church is located, votes in support of landmarks designation and endorses a plan that would preserve the structure on an economically-viable basis by allowing demolition of two ancillary parish buildings on 24th Street and their replacement with a new residential tower. March 7, 2008.
- Landmarks Conservancy submits possible development plan to the Archdiocese, but the Archdiocese declines to pursue this approach to saving the church.
- The Urban Environmental Law Center prepares and submits a third application, specifically requesting it be referred to the full Commission, not LPC staff, for consideration. May 1, 2009
- Local and other elected officials join in the enthusiastic effort to save the church. Among them are State Senators Tom Duane and Bill Perkins Assembly Member Richard Gottfried and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.
- President of France Nicholas Sarkozy writes to both Mayor Bloomberg and then-Archbishop, now Cardinal Timothy Dolan to express passionate interest in preserving and landmarking St. Vincent de Paul. December 1, 2009.
- As support from the French community in New York grows, the multi-national corporation LVMH hosts a supportive event at its Manhattan headquarters. December 2009.
- The French Heritage Society hosts a successful fundraiser dinner at the French Consulate which raises over $60,000 for restoration of the church’s stained glass windows and roof. As of yet, the Archdiocese has not allowed these needed repairs to be made.
- The American Society of the French Legion of Honor donates $10,000 for the restoration of the St. Vincent de Paul War Memorial.
- A report by respected Historic Preservation Consultant Mary B. Dierickx documents the architectural and cultural merit of St. Vincent de Paul and requests landmarking evaluation by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission. March 10, 2011
- After the church roof suffers damage due to Hurricane Irene, Save St. Vincent de Paul again offers to pay for repairs, and is again denied this request by the Church.
- Archdiocese renews discussion of shuttering the church.
- The church’s diverse parish community continues to fill the church for French-language masses. Children from the Lycee Francais attend catechism classes, and the charitable Carrefour Pastorale de la Francophonie continues to serve a large French-speaking immigrant community.
- Save St. Vincent de Paul launches an aggressive new effort to demand a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing to save this vital center of French culture.
- To join the effort, click HERE!