The current Saint Thomas Church is actually the fourth church for the parish. The third church, which was also at the current site at Fifth Avenue and Fifty-third Street, suffered a devastating fire in 1905. The first worship service in the current church was on October 4, 1913. We mark the centennial with events planned throughout the 2013-14 choral season.
Designed by the distinguished architectural firm of Cram, Goodhue and Ferguson and completed in 1913, Saint Thomas Church is built in the French High Gothic style, with stone ornamentation of the later Flamboyant period in the windows, small arches of the triforium, and stonework surrounding the statuary in the reredos. The flat wall behind the altar is characteristic of English cathedrals, and the magnificent reredos, one of the largest in the world, is strongly suggestive of the single, massive windows that terminate the naves of many English churches designed in the Perpendicular style.
On Thursday evening May 11, Saint Thomas received a Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award for the completion of the restoration of its stained glass windows and the cleaning of its façade. In the words of Peg Breen , President of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, “These awards are the Oscars of the preservation world” and another honoree said “I’d rather receive a Lucy than an Oscar”. Accepting the award on behalf of Saint Thomas was Barbara Pettus who, in a brief speech , closed with the following:
“So many people helped make this possible. Julie Sloan oversaw the work done by twelve studios from California to New Mexico and from Virginia to Boston. Walter Melvin Architects advised us on major stone restoration work which was required once the windows were removed and on the best way to clean the stone traceries of all the windows and, later, on cleaning the façade. Eagle Scaffolding designed a cantilevered scaffolding system that made the project all but invisible to worshippers and visitors. And our general contractor, Westerman Construction, along with our Facilities Manager, Angel Estrada, coordinated schedules, budgets and vendors so that we finished the project on time, under budget and accident-free. Many thanks to all of you! “
Julie Sloan and Angel Estrada, pictured holding the award, attended the event as did representatives from many of the vendors listed above. It is a wonderful honor to have been recognized for a project that spanned ten years and which was made possible by generous contributors to our capital campaign as well as a sale of some of our air rights.
You can see images of the event here
Saint Thomas Church receives Lucy G. Moses Preservation Project Award
The Moses Awards are the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s highest honors for outstanding preservation. This year Moses awards will be given to Ruth Pierpont, Gale Brewer, Daniel R. Garodnick, and The Episcopal Diocese of NY Property Support Program as well as the owners and stewards of historic buildings across the City, who completed extraordinary restoration and reuse projects in 2016.
On February 10, 2017, Saint Thomas Church received the following message from the Landmarks Conservancy:
On behalf of the New York Landmarks Conservancy's Lucy G. Moses Awards Committee, I am delighted to inform you that the restoration project recently completed at St. Thomas Church and Parish House has been selected to receive a Preservation Project Award for 2016. The nomination was made by Robert Bates of Walter B. Melvin Architects, LLC.
The Conservancy bestows these awards annually to recognize excellence in historic preservation. They are named for a generous and dedicated New Yorker whose contributions benefitted the City during her lifetime, and continue to do so through her endowment in support of our awards program.
Window Restoration and the Cleaning of the Facade
Over two years ago, scaffolding was erected on the exterior of the south and east sides of the church, along 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue. The scaffolding was originally erected due to work on the stained glass restoration project, which was recently completed, and which will be acknowledged and celebrated more formally in the spring.
The scaffolding also allowed us a unique opportunity to do a thorough and up close investigation of the stone façade as part of our Master Plan, a detailed building review which we perform once every ten years. Not only did we perform repairs to the stonework but we cleaned every inch of the façade as well. The façade was last cleaned about thirty years ago. With the scaffolding now removed, we can all see the glorious results. And while there are still a few small items to be cleaned and repaired on the 53rd Street side, the totality of the nearly completed project is self-evident. We invite you to take some time to stand outside on a sunny day and examine it for yourself. You might also take note of the new flags flying crisply on either side of the Fifth Avenue entrance.
This project could not have been completed without the hard work and daily attention to detail by Angel Estrada, our Facilities Manager, and the marvelous staffs of Beyer Blinder Belle (preservation architects), Metropolitan Construction and Restoration (cleaning and repair), and Westerman Construction (general contractor). Thank you to everyone who has worked on the project, and thank you to all of our parishioners, friends, and visitors who have endured the project with patience and goodwill. We hope you will agree it's been worth the wait.