Greenwood Heights

Green-Wood Cemetery’s chapel is landmarked

April 12, 2016 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This chapel at Green-Wood Cemetery is now a city landmark. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Goin’ To The Chapel And We’re Gonna Get — Landmarked?

We’re rewriting a line from the beloved old tune by the Dixie Cups to report the latest news about historic Green-Wood Cemetery, which was founded in 1838.

On Tuesday, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to designate a century-old Gothic-style chapel located in the middle of the famed 478-acre graveyard as a landmark.

The chapel was designed by Warren & Wetmore — the architecture firm that designed Grand Central Terminal.

Before their vote, Commissioner Michael Goldblum admiringly called the limestone chapel a “weird mashup of styles.”

In their vote, the LPC also said yes to landmarking the Gatehouse and Gatehouse Cottage located at the cemetery’s Fort Hamilton Parkway entrance.

These two High Victorian Gothic-style buildings, which are made of brownstone, were designed by architect Richard Mitchell Upjohn. They were constructed around 1876.

The most important thing commissioners did at the public meeting, which was held at the preservation agency’s Lower Manhattan headquarters, was to officially remove the rest of the cemetery from their calendar for landmarking consideration.  

Before this vote, Commissioner Frederick Bland said it would be “impractical” to landmark the entire cemetery — and that Green-Wood’s management “has taken preservation very seriously.”

The entire cemetery had been on the LPC’s calendar since 1981. In February, commissioners had decided that their landmarking consideration would be narrowed down to the chapel and the two Fort Hamilton Parkway entrance buildings.

From the outset, Green-Wood officials were opposed to landmarking the entire cemetery — whose burial plots have 200,000 living owners. The Greenwood Heights graveyard averages 1,200 burials annually.

Green-Wood President Richard Moylan previously told the Brooklyn Eagle that Green-Wood and LPC staffers “mutually agreed upon” the chapel and Fort Hamilton Parkway Gatehouse and Gatehouse Cottage as structures that should be landmarked.

There is already a landmarked building at Green-Wood — the 1860s-vintage Gothic Revival-style main gate, which faces Fifth Avenue.

Dealing with the issue of how much, if any, of Green-Wood should be landmarked is part of the LPC’s Backlog95 initiative.

There were 95 sites located throughout the city, including Green-Wood, that were calendared for landmarking consideration by the LPC as long as 50 years ago.

The agency has been working since last year to deal with the backlog.