The Fourth Universalist Society awarded prestigious $500,000 historic preservation grant from New York State
The Fourth Universalist Society, on Central Park West and 76th Street, was awarded a prestigious $500,000 grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) on December 18, 2018. The grant will help fund significant structural repairs to the historic church’s roof and adjoining tower. The announcement has provided a massive boost of confidence to a community dedicated to preserving the unique spirit of the Upper West Side and to protecting the neighborhood from the threat of new development.
Rev. Schuyler Vogel, Senior Minister of the Fourth Universalist Society says, “To receive this award is a ringing endorsement of the significant cultural, historic, and community value of our building and our congregation. It is also a powerful vote of confidence in the Fourth Universalist Society and its vibrant future. As one of only three religious institutions in the state to receive this grant, we are among the highest preservation priorities in New York State. There can be no question that our beloved building must be saved.”
This award supports the congregation’s “Landmark Preservation Campaign” a $1.5 million community-led capital campaign launched to support urgently needed repairs to the building. To date, major donors in the neighborhood and congregation have pledged over $600,000 in philanthropic support. This, in addition to the $500,000 grant, pushes the official campaign total to $1.1 million. With $400,000 left to raise, the Fourth Universalist Society is reaching out to community members who have both the capacity and vision to help meet their goal and begin construction in spring 2019.
Recently, the Fourth Universalist Society received significant media coverage for their status as a sanctuary congregation and subsequent vandalism of their building. Built in 1897, the church stands out on Central Park as the only structure built in the English Perpendicular Gothic style and has long been recognized as an architectural treasure. As a Unitarian Universalist congregation, the Fourth Universalist Society welcomes people of all backgrounds and beliefs. Its membership has seen significant growth over the past three years and it is one of the most vibrant Unitarian Universalist congregations in the US.
This year, the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) awarded $7,264,375 to twenty-five organizations, with only eight receiving the maximum award level of $500,000.
Early major gifts by neighbors in the Kenilworth and San Remo buildings as well as residents from 76th and 77th Street and select congregants were key to Fourth Universalist’s success in receiving award. Critical public endorsements were also made by Senator Kristen Gillibrand, Congressman Jerry Nadler, State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal, State Senator Jose Serrano, and City Council member Helen Rosenthal, Landmark West! and the New York Landmarks Conservancy.