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The facade is over: Middle College Church to raze shell of fire-gutted building

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Middle Collegiate Church is finally moving ahead with the demolition of its fire-gutted facade.

This week, the East Village Church’s leadership was notified that the takedown will begin Mon., Nov. 20.

“It’s deeply sad, but I’m also filled with hope and faith by this community who has moved through trauma with fierce love to build something new,” Reverend Jacqui Lewis, the church’s senior minister, said. “Taking down the last pieces of what the fire destroyed is the final step to clear the way for our future.”

In early December 2020, a six-alarm fire that started in the vacant building next door spread and engulfed the church, at E. Seventh Street and Second Avenue. When the smoke cleared, only the house of worship’s charred Gothic Revival stone facade was left standing.

Only the stone facade of the landmarked Middle Collegiate Church survived the 2020 fire. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has granted the church permission to raze the site. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Earlier this year, in January, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission — over the vocal protestations of Village Preservation, among others — ruled that Middle Collegiate could demolish the facade.

On Nov. 20, Reverend Lewis will lead a press conference at the location at 10 a.m., at which she will tell the media and the East Village community about the church’s plans for rebuilding a “Center for Spirituality, Justice and the Arts,” with the construction funded by its capital campaign.

Throughout the day, until 4 p.m., people can come by to join Middle Church clergy and staff at the site in prayer and song and mourning.

“Tears will fall, songs will rise, and we will share the joy of being together, even in this most bittersweet gathering,” Lewis said. “There will be a special moment for children and families at 3:30 p.m. We invite you to bring flowers, a candle, prayers, drawings or anything else you would like to leave upon the vigil altar. As the sky turns dark, we will light candles, proclaiming our resilience as we rise.”


  1. pinball 29 pinball 29 November 20, 2023

    Glass box building arrives in 5..4..3…

  2. Carol Frances Yost Carol Frances Yost November 20, 2023

    This is horrible news. How unfeeling!

  3. Gojira Gojira November 18, 2023

    I still cannot believe that real estate speculator and gentrifier Faith Popcorn, in whose building the fire originally started, was never held accountable for the destruction of this vital, historic and beautiful site. That was the second fire in her under-renovation building, and her insurance company refused to pay anything to Middle C. And she walked away scot-free.

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