Sunset Park

Church in Sunset Park nominated for national landmark honors

June 19, 2019 Lore Croghan
This is Sunset Park’s Fourth Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, a nominee for inclusion on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

A Brooklyn church — and Sunset Park architectural treasure — was nominated on Friday for inclusion on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

The Fourth Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, a striking Romanesque-style building of red brick and gray sandstone, was constructed in 1894 under the designs of ecclesiastical architect George W. Kramer. Its historic stained-glass windows are still intact.

The church at 4616 Fourth Ave. is the only Brooklyn property included in the lineup of nominees. Unlike city landmark designation, inclusion on the state and national registers does not protect buildings from demolition — but it does enable building owners to receive state and federal tax credits for renovation.

“The building retains a high degree of architectural integrity,” the conservancy’s report about the church says.

 Here’s a glimpse of windows on the 47th Street side of the Fourth Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan
Here’s a glimpse of windows on the 47th Street side of the Fourth Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

The building’s current owner and occupant is the Tian Fu United Methodist Church.

It’s a big, sprawling church — mainly because it combines a sanctuary and a Sunday school connected by a removable partition. This type of design is known as an Akron Combination Church.

Because of its flexible seating arrangements, the building was often used for non-church-related events. It “served as a cultural anchor institution for the Sunset Park community” through the middle of the 20th century, the nomination materials say.

In its heyday, the church had a nearly 3,000-member congregation. Its influence (and its congregation) dwindled after a popular pastor retired in the 1950s.

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Other properties on the nomination list include the Adirondack farm where artist Rockwell Kent had a studio for several decades and author and Civil Rights activist James Baldwin’s Upper West Side home — which was one of six LGBTQ+ sites designated as city landmarks on Tuesday.

The choices “highlight so much of what it is exceptional and exciting about New York’s history and honor the legacy of some of the state’s most distinguished leaders,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news release.

Follow reporter Lore Croghan on Twitter.

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