The beautiful sagging steps of steps of St. Paul & St. Andrew United Methodist Church on 86th street and West End Avenue are being replaced as part of a major upgrade of the church’s exterior.
The church is a landmark, so the steps have to be the same material as the original, which means they’re paying for a whole lot of marble.
The steps have always seemed to be a tangible symbol of the power of religious devotion, pressed down day by day year by year since 1897 by the footsteps of the churchgoers. Elizabeth Jensen from the church tells us “much of the sagging (and the reason they need to be fixed) is due to the deterioration in the metal substructure holding them up from underneath. But they have also been much-used since 1897!”
Learn more about the project below, from Elizabeth Jensen:
St. Paul & St. Andrew is embarking on a major new project to improve the outside of our church building. The project will:
*replace the beautiful but sagging marble steps on West End Avenue (to Landmarks specifications.)
*provide new brass handrails
*reopen the tower entrance at 86th street, improve the stairs, install brass handrail
* install new concrete sidewalks on all church property
*install a new granite curb (required in Landmark districts)
*make tree pits larger and provide a small fence to protect new plants &
The work is starting now, with the sidewalks being done first as we wait for the marble for the steps to be cut. We’ve raised money from our members and through fundraisers including our annual December concerts and we have received grants from the Park Avenue Trust, the Robert Wilson Foundation, New York Landmarks Conservatory and others. But there’s still much more to be raised so if anyone wants to contribute we would be very grateful!
Read about the church’s history here.
Photo courtesy of the church.
I always wondered why those steps were sagging. Now I know. 🙂
Deja vu!! Such an early memory!!
I grew up on 84th and WEA…and that is where I first learned to climb stairs!!! Five steps might not seem like a big deal, but they were the nearest to our building…and my Mom and Dad always made me go up and down several times….eventually without holding on!!!..whenever we passed….
Are they marble??? I remember them as white, pristine, beautiful…and straight!!! Wonderful blast from the past…
My recollection is that the steps are sagging, and bits of terra cotta are crumbling, because of the decades of deferred maintenance during which this church thought its mission was to feed the poor, to the exclusion of keeping up the building on which it had received a tax deduction for a century–meaning its neighbors provided it a subsidy while it turned into a hazard to passersby.