Saturday, December 11, 2010

12/17 Christmas Fundraiser Concert To Help Restore The Historic First Presbyterian Church of Newtown - Relic of Lost History of Queens!

The historic First Presbyterian Church of Newtown NEEDS YOUR HELP! All are invited to a Christmas Concert & Restoration Fundraiser on Friday, December 17th at 7:30 PM at the church, on the south side of Queens Blvd & 54th Ave in Elmhurst, near the Grand Ave subway entrance. For more information, contact: 

Church Historian Marjorie Melikian: (718) 897-5668 
Preservationist Michael Perlman, Chair of Rego-Forest Preservation Council & Queens VP of 4 Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance:
 (917) 446-7775,

This church is endangered not by developers which have recently undermined the integrity of historic religious institutions, but is endangered since it is in need of some major repairs to its 1895 building, including weatherproofing, electrical work, roofing, refinishing, and the cleaning and repair of stained glass. Although there is no admission fee, a free will offering will be collected, to benefit the restoration and upgrades of one of Queens' greatest "Landmarks at heart!" Please help by spreading the word, and bringing your family and friends.

The concert is a joint venture of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown choir with another choral group, known as the Harmonious Chorus. It will be directed by Victor Lui, and the organist is Kiyomi Kimura. Refreshments will be served afterwards.

The First Presbyterian Church is a greatly intact Gothic brownstone masterpiece with a bell tower, has a 358 year-old congregation, and was an engineering marvel as the 5 million-pound church was moved 125 feet in the 1920s, to spare it from demolition during Queens Boulevard's widening.

At the conclusion of the concert, the church's old bell from 1788 will be rung. It was installed in their 4th  church building, erected in 1791, just after the American Revolution. It replaced their 3rd church, which was desecrated by British soldiers and demolished. The bell survived the destruction of that church by fire, and the moving of the present church a half block in the 1920s, which caused the loss of its original huge steeple. The bell has witnessed significant historic moments in Queens. The bell was originally in an edifice on a single-lane dirt road, with horses going by. The current church was built on a double-lane dirt road. Both the single and double lanes are now bustling Queens Blvd.

The congregation began in 1652, and is one of the oldest in New York City. Originally a community church, it became officially Presbyterian in 1715. It was founded in the wilderness (now Elmhurst) of the Dutch Colony of New Netherlands, and has survived war, invasion, and religious and political persecution. The bell and church are symbols of the lost history of Queens, and have withstood the test of time. Your help is most crucial towards preserving this historic site for future generations to cherish.

A rare and unique history of the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown, composed by Church Historian Marjorie Melikian of Rego Park, NY:

Postcards and photo documentation by Michael Perlman, Chair of Rego-Forest Preservation Council & Queens VP of the Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance, is below and on flickr:

Interior of the Gothic sanctuary towards the altar.

Looking out from the altar towards the balcony.

One of the church's many enriching stained glass works.

The 1895 First Presbyterian Church of Newtown is moved during the 1920s, and Queens Blvd is expanded to its current size today. The congregation and riggers worked diligently to spare the church from demolition, and this could potentially be the largest and heaviest building ever moved in New York!
A rare glimpse of rural Queens Boulevard with the First Presbyterian Church of Newtown & humble frame houses. The church's original huge steeple doubled the height of the building, and was sacrificed during the move. ~ Courtesy of the Michael Perlman Postcard Collection.

More stained glass beauty of the 19th century. They sure don't make 'em like they used to!

Spiritual scenes transcend from the artist's vision to reality.

An 1895 Gothic masterpiece is a one & only encounter on Queens Blvd! Visualize farmland with frame houses mere steps from this edifice 115 years ago.

John Goldsmith Payntar left $70,000 in his will for the new 1895 church building. "Payntar Memorial" is inscribed above the entranceway. Stained glass windows and Gothic ornamentation create an empowering entry, which is complemented by its hand-carved wood doors with intricate brass handles. These are a few of many authentic features which merit restoration, before they are lost forever.

A closer eye on the Gothic facade with stained glass overlooking Queens Blvd.

The charming 1931 limestone & brick Church House annex on Seabury St consists of recreational facilities, performance space, and classrooms. It is also in great need of restoration and upgrades.

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