Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Goodbye, Mt. Olive AME

A couple of weeks ago, I took a look at the changes on my block over the last 55 years. One of the biggest and saddest changes was the renovation of the former Mt. Olive Church, which was stripped of most of its detail and appeal during a renovation at some point in those 55 years. In that post I wrote, "The really unfortunate fact is that this past renovation has likely sealed the fate of this church, which will probably see the wrecking ball in the next few years, as have many of the other churches in the neighborhood. Given that this one has been so badly compromised already, it's unlikely that many will come to its defense."

Here's the before and after picture, from March of 1954 and this December...

I hate to say I told you so, but an item on the January SOSNA zoning meeting agenda indicates that my prediction of the church's imminent demise will be borne out. To wit, "727 South 19th Street (former Mt. Olive AME Church): Demolition of existing church and erection of 5 single-family homes with rear-access parking thru a common driveway." Demolition and conversion to rowhouses is the same fate that befell two other nearby churches, Varick Memorial at 19th & Catharine and Metropolitan AME at 20th & Fitzwater. Both of those churches came to be similarly comprised architecturally towards the end of their lives. 

Despite the likely destruction of Mt. Olive, a process begun with that renovation some time ago, there is still hope for the survival of some of the other majestic churches in the neighborhood. On that same agenda, another church item appears, this one indicating a better fate for another church, "2319-27 Fitzwater Street (Greater St. Matthews) INFORMATIONAL:  Presentation about the renovation of existing church and rectory to be apartments."

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