St. Martin's Episcopal Church Credit: Bill Moore photo

The New York Landmarks Conservancy has announced 18 Sacred Sites Grants totaling $310,500 awarded to historic religious properties throughout New York State, including $25,000 to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Harlem to help fund the parish hall roof replacement.

St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, located in the former Holy Trinity Church, was established in 1928. The church complex, designed by William Potter, dates from 1887-1888, and is one of Manhattan’s finest examples of Romanesque Revival architecture. A center of local civil rights activity in the 1930s, under prominent Black rector the Rev. John H. Johnson, the parish led a boycott of 125th Street retailers who refused to hire or promote Black workers. Johnson also started the country’s first Black-run credit union at the church in 1937. This enabled parishioners to obtain loans and mortgages, establish businesses, purchase homes, and strengthen their presence in the Harlem community. Prominent parishioners included artist Romare Bearden. Deterioration and active leaks have displaced the congregation from the building, pending completion of current tower restoration and planned parish hall roof replacement, which this grant will help address.

“Our Sacred Sites grantees maintain beautiful and important buildings, but also serve beyond their congregations,” said Peg Breen, president, The New York Landmarks Conservancy. “Throughout these difficult months, they have continued providing food, health and recovery programs to their communities. Our grants will help them continue all their vital work.”

The Sacred Sites Program provides congregations with matching grants for planning and implementing exterior restoration projects, along with technical assistance and workshops. Since 1986, the program has pledged 1,578 grants totaling more than $14.9 million to 836 religious institutions statewide.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy

The New York Landmarks Conservancy, a private non-profit organization, has led the effort to preserve and protect New York City’s architectural legacy for nearly 50 years. Since its founding, the Conservancy has loaned and granted more than $54 million, which has leveraged more than $1 billion in 1,850 restoration projects throughout New York, revitalizing communities, providing economic stimulus and supporting local jobs. The Conservancy has also offered countless hours of pro bono technical advice to building owners, both nonprofit organizations and individuals. The Conservancy’s work has saved more than a thousand buildings across the City and State, protecting New York’s distinctive architectural heritage for residents and visitors alike today, and for future generations. For more information, please visit www.nylandmarks.org.

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