One important aspect of our work in redeveloping Cortelyou Road’s Baptist Church of the Redeemer entailed identifying building elements from the 1920’s neo-Romanesque church that could be salvaged and reused in the new design. After disassembly, cleaning, and reconstruction, eight stained-glass panels have been mounted and installed in the church lobby.
“The discussion was how to address the [original] building and how significant it was for the community,” said Carlos Weber, architectural designer at ESKW/Architects. “The salvaged elements are a link to its history. That link is very critical and crucial: to tell the story of the building to the people coming after, and you can see the story of the building in its materiality.”
Prior to demolition and construction, the existing church stood in disrepair for many years. The congregation had been using the adjacent parsonage for services as the sanctuary was not fit for use. While the handsome brick church could not be salvaged, several artifacts were selected to link the past and the future including stained glass panels.
“We are 100% for readapting, reusing, and saving as much as we can. We want to reaffirm and emphasize the church’s role and lend some continuity to it,” Carlos said. “Layers happen naturally in the construction of the city, and I think we have a responsibility for continuing that layering. We don’t want to erase anything. We want to build on it.”
“It’s very special to see the elements of the past through the storefront in the church lobby. The history is displayed proudly and kept sacred at the same time,” added partner Kimberly Murphy.
General Contractor Mega Contracting salvaged the pieces and then worked with Clagnan Stained Glass Studio on the restoration. The architectural team coordinated the installation and back lighting with lighting consultant Jim Conti Lighting Design. Other elements salvaged include selected solid wood pews, hymn boards, and dedication plaques original to the building.
ESKW/Architects has a bit of history where stained glass is concerned. Founding partner Harold Edelman was responsible for the design of the replacement stained glass at the upper portion of St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery. Learn more about that project here.
1921 Cortelyou Road represents an innovative and progressive development partnership between the church, the city, and nonprofit organizations MHANY and BCS, which you can read about in detail here. We hope the Baptist Church of the Redeemer are proud of what they’ve achieved with this project. “They gave up something, but they have a new space,” said Carlos, “and they’re allowing new housing to be provided in Brooklyn.”