General News

Repairing the Sanctuary in “Our Grand House of God”

This summer, the Fifth Avenue Sanctuary ceiling will undergo needed construction.

While working on other projects this winter, the church’s longtime architect observed some damage in the support system for the Sanctuary attic. Structural engineers were brought in to assess the situation and determined that repairs were necessary.

The project will require installing scaffolding, moving sprinkler pipes in the attic, and taking the Sanctuary’s fire protection system off-line at times. Additionally, structural steel will be needed to strengthen existing ceiling supports and may possibly need to be lifted into place by a crane. Carpenters will be building new supports from wood to replace the current ties that are original to the construction of the church. 

Bob Henn is a member of the Fifth Avenue Property Committee and chairs the Livestreaming Task Force. He says, “We did not expect to have to do this work, but it is important for the safety of our congregation and for the long-term preservation of our Sanctuary that we do this work now.”

In late April, the Board of Trustees approved a motion to allocate funding from the Hubbard Fund to repair the Sanctuary attic. The Hubbard Fund was created in 2018 for the purpose of funding annual capital expenditures as well as unexpected large repair projects.  Following that motion approval, contracts were secured so repair work could commence immediately. 

Property Chair Ted Peck says the church is committed to the full repair of the project as well as pursuing an aggressive schedule. “We are eager to resume in-person worship in the Sanctuary after a long season of being apart. Engineers have told us that if there are no challenges in the process, the Sanctuary will be available and usable for worship in early September. In late May, we will close access to the Sanctuary so that the engineers and carpenters can get to work.”

In 1935, Time magazine wrote about Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, stating that “this grand house of God is often called the Cathedral of Presbyterianism.” The historic Sanctuary is original to Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church which has been on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street since 1875.