September 20, By Tara Law
The Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously voted to designate the Old St. James Episcopal Church, located at 86-02 Broadway, a landmark on Tuesday.
The church was constructed in 1735-36 and is the second oldest religious building and oldest Church of England mission church in the city.
The building is recognized as an example of the colonial meetinghouse architectural style and features 19th Century Gothic Revival and Stick Style workmanship.
“As the second-oldest church building in the City, pre-dating St. Paul’s Chapel in Manhattan, it is a site well-deserving of the protection landmark status provides,” said Meenakshi Srinivasan, the landmarks preservation commission chair.
The church was constructed as part of what was known as Newtown Village, one of the original five towns in Queens County. The building was used by British troops during the American Revolution. The church became an early member of the Episcopal Diocese of New York after the revolution.
In 1848, the parish built a larger church a block away to accommodate the area’s growing population, and the church became the parish hall.
Following storm damage in 1883, the building was modified with Victorian design elements.
In the 20th century, the hall served the community as a centrally-located meeting place.
In 2004, grants from the Landmark Conservancy’s Sacred Sites program helped to restore the church to its 1883 appearance.
The church is currently not in use, although part of property used as parking lot.
“The Old St. James Church is an American treasure,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm, who wrote a letter in support of landmark status to the Commission. “It is a beautiful work of art and an important part of our history. The Old St. James Church tells the story of how our nation came to be.”