Milestones in Faith: Fort Greene church up for renovation

January 15, 2013 By Francesca Norsen-Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
adelphi-street-church-CarltonMews-OldStMarks-photo by GMAP.jpeg
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The future of the Carlton Mews Church, as it has come to be known, appears on an upcoming Landmarks Preservation Commission agenda, Brownstoner reports.

The church, at 232 Adelphi St. in Fort Greene, is the address of the former church called St. Mark’s Protestant Episcopal Church, according to city documents filed in 1978.

Brownstoner reported, in part, that “The owners are going to the LPC with this proposal: ‘construct additions, alter the facades, roofs, and yards, replace windows, and install a ramp.’” Brownstoner reports that “the Gothic Revival church sat deteriorating for years before its new owners took care of structural repairs last year. After repairs started up in November of 2011, no news came up about the future use of the church. The owners had not, at the time of the Brownstoner report, “applied for any permits to convert the church to residential use. The connected development site, the Carlton Mews Townhouse Project, has continued with construction after an accident last fall.”

The Rev. Canon Shawn Duncan, a spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island, confirmed to the Brooklyn Eagle that old St. Mark’s Church was sold in 2001.“There wasn’t anything in the immediate records showing the date of a de-consecration liturgy. But, canonically, properties cannot be sold unless they’re de-consecrated and that sale is approved by the standing committee certifying that that was done,” said Canon Duncan. “So, I’m confident that it was deconsecrated before it was sold; and that was in 2001.”

A de-conscration liturgy declares, in the form of a prayer service, that a building no longer serves as sacred space.

An extensive history St. Michael’s and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church appears in a 1978 document titled “FORT GREENE HISTORIC DISTRICT Designation Report; Edward T. Koch, [sic] Mayor; NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission”. [Editor’s Note: former Mayor Koch’s middle initial is I.]

Pages 22 and 23 of that document indicate that church building known as St. Michael’s Episcopal Church —a nd before that, St. Mark’s Protestant Episcopal Church — “was built on the site of the original Reformed Episcopal Church of the Messiah,” with a reference to 74-84 Greene Ave. in Fort. Greene.

The Designation Report states that “the congregation of St. Mark’s Church was founded in 1849 as a chapel of Holy Trinity P.E. Church in Brooklyn Heights. The first church building was a small board and batten structure erected on Fleet Street.” After a series of land transfers between congregations over the next two decades, “In 1869 St. Mark’s purchased the brick church (1852, enlarged 1859) and frame chapel built by the Church of the Messiah. In 1885 the frame chapel was demolished and replaced by a new chapel and parish house, and in 1888 the brick church was demolished and replaced by a large Gothic Revival church. The small chapel was designed by the prolific 19th-century church: I architect L.B. Valk, architect of many churches in Brooklyn.”

An architectural description of the church was published in the Episcopal publication of the time,
The Churchman, Vol. 58 (July 14, 1888), 39. That attribution is footnoted in the Designation Report: “The design is pure Gothic and the general style of the church will be cruciform, with nave, aisles, trancepts [sic/transepts] and spacious chancel. There will be a lofty gable, with traceried windows of five lancets and beneath five smaller lancets. Entrances at the side open into the north aisle and the entrance (to the south aisle passes under a massive tower : which is quadrangular to the height of the gable and octagonal above that, attaining in all a height of 100 feet. The stained glass windows representing St. Mark, at the rear of the old chancel, will be used in the new church.”

The Designation Report indicates in subsequent paragraphs that, a century after its founding, “In 1949 St. Mark’s P.E. Church merged with St. Michaels’s P.E. Church. St. Michael’s had been founded in 1847 and built its first church building in 1866 on High Street near Gold Street. Later Henry Congdon was commissioned to design a new church building for the congregation, which has been demolished.”

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