New Tower at St. Augustine Chapel, 290 Henry Street

May 8, 2023

Sandra Strother, Chair
Landmarks Committee
Manhattan Community Board 3

Re: Certificate of Appropriate Application for St. Augustine Chapel, 290 Henry Street

Dear Chair Strother,

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative – LESPI – has reviewed the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission application materials for restoration of the 1828 Georgian/Federal Style St. Augustine’s Chapel and the erection of a 21-story building behind the church. We completely support the restoration work, as outlined, as it repairs current problems and reconstitutes historic features. This church is a treasured landmark of the Lower East Side, and was so recognized when in 1965 it was among the earliest designated landmarks in New York City. Below is a quote from the LPC’s Designation Report:

“[landmark designation] is not intended to freeze the structure in its present state or to prevent future appropriate alterations needed to meet changed requirements of use for religious and directly related charitable purposes….In this connection the Commission wishes to state at this time that it recognizes that Trinity Parish may want to erect new buildings in the future on its grounds at St. Augustine’s Chapel.”

In general we are not opposed to the planned 21-story tower behind the church. The new building is set back away from the primary facades and will not damage any of the church’s original features. However, we have misgivings about the height, as a shorter building would be more sympathetic with the church and with the neighboring 6-story Vladeck Houses. Nonetheless, we realize that as a practicality  the current project may require the 21 story height.

We believe, though, that more can be done to lessen the impact of the tower on the church and the neighborhood. More details about the tower façade, including materials, are needed. Currently the tower is shown with a white cladding that attracts undue attention to itself as a backdrop to the church. Every effort should be made to have the tower harmonize as much as possible with the church as well as its surroundings.

Finally, it is important that current plans include a reasonable level of funding for long term maintenance of the church, as part of the provisions for the 74-711 application. Thank you.


Richard Moses

Cc: Deborah Wye, LESPI