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West Park Presbyterian Church Made a Historic Landmark

By DNAinfo Staff on January 13, 2010 2:00pm  | Updated on January 13, 2010 1:58pm

West Park Presbyterian Church on Amsterdam Avenue.
West Park Presbyterian Church on Amsterdam Avenue.
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Nicole Breskin/DNAinfo

By Mariel S. Clark

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — An Upper West Side church was designated an historic landmark Tuesday, delighting preservationists and dismaying church members who had hoped to turn part of the property into a condominium building.

Landmarks Preservation Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney declared  the nearly 125-year-old West Park Presbyterian Church, located at W. 86th Street and Amsterdam Ave, "one of the best examples of a Romanesque Revival style religious structure in New York City."

“Its deep red sandstone cladding, broad round-arch openings and soaring tower endow a prominent intersection of the Upper West Side with an unmistakable sense of place,” Tierney added in a statement released after the church was designated a landmark.

Many church members and its pastor fought against the designation, arguing that preventing the church from being able to make money off a real estate deal so would only "hasten its decline."

"I think the congregation has a better idea of what the building means than the people trying to make it a landmark," said Rev. Dr. Robert Brashear the church's pastor at a July meeting.

Brashear said the church had depleted its money trying to restore and revive the church, which was in such a state of disrepair that services were no longer held in the building.

The landmarking was supported by many local politicians including Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, who urged the commission to act so the building could “survive and flourish instead of getting relegated to the dumpsters of history.”