Epiphany 351: Faith on the Move
Q: Is Church of the Epiphany moving?
A: We are! In 2022, Epiphany will move its parish and the Church of the Epiphany Day School (CEDS) into the historic Jan Hus Church at 351 E74th Street that Epiphany purchased in 2018. Jan Hus is just one block west of Epiphany’s current site at 1393 York Ave and was part of the long cultural heritage of the Upper East Side. Epiphany has worked closely with The NYC Landmarks Commission, the Landmarks Conservancy, and the Friends of the Upper East Side to ensure that preserving the historic façade is a priority. Extensive interior renovations, now well underway, are required at the site to bring it up to code. Epiphany’s new home will be its sixth since its founding downtown in 1833.
Q. Why are we doing it?
A. We need more room for our mission. The Church of the Epiphany is a vibrant and growing parish, but does not have enough space for it's ministry, outreach programs and Day School. Moving one block west will give Epiphany an additional 15,000 square feet. Proceeds from the sale of our current building at 1393 York will allow Epiphany to completely renovate 351 East 74th Street and grow its ministry to be a more effective resource within the community.
Q. What are the plans for the new site?
A. Two years into the project, Epiphany’s commitment remains to build a structurally sound building that is fully ADA accessible, energy efficient and meets the needs and expectations of a 21st century parish and community. Interior spaces will be totally reconfigured, along with a re-designed Sanctuary for worship which includes a new Bigelow Tracker Organ (coming in 2023) and parish meeting rooms. A Chapel and Columbarium are also under construction. An elevator will access all six floors including to the new roof garden. On the bottom floor, an auditorium and the Carter Burden Network’s Senior Lunch Program will serve meals from a fully-equipped modern kitchen capable of preparing and packaging up to 1000 meals a day. The Church of the Epiphany Day School (C.E.D.S) will also have a new home across two floors with accesses to a gymnasium and rooftop play area.
Q. Can you tell more about what the new Church of the Epiphany Day School (CEDS) will be like?
A: Under construction are five bright classrooms, a school library and an outdoor play space on the roof. These modernized classroom spaces will be located on the new upper floors with dedicated, secure elevator access, and a school gymnasium. Each classroom and the gymnasium will be filled with natural light from new energy efficient windows. Full in-person instruction at the new site will begin in September of 2022. The 2021-2022 school year will continue in its current facility on York Avenue.
Architect's rendering of one of the new classrooms for the Church of the Epiphany Day School (CEDS).
Architect's rendering of the Roof Terrace for the Church of the Epiphany Day School (CEDS) and parish events.
Q. What’s construction like at the site right now?
A. Viewed from the sidewalk, with exterior scaffolding covering the entire facade, it’s hard to see all that’s going on inside. But now the project has transitioned from the demolition phase to the construction phase. Repointing of the facade and new slate roofing on the bell tower is fully installed. New copper ornamentation is complete. Concrete formwork, rebar, pouring and structural steel is nearly done. Also new steel framing and enlarging of window openings to bring more light into the sanctuary is happening.
Q. Can you give an example of why reconstruction at 351 York is so challenging?
A. We’re building a 21st century energy-efficient smart building in the skin of a 19th century historic building. For example, Jan Hus is actually two different buildings constructed 30 years apart with two completely different construction methods. In addition, the floor levels between the two buildings were at different elevations. Part of making the building fully ADA accessible, was to reconstruct each floor to ensure unobstructed movement between the buildings.
Q. Has the Covid 19 Pandemic affected plans?
A. Yes. Due to the citywide building moratorium in 2019 construction had to stop for nearly 4 months. Our construction managers have been unwavering in their commitment to maintaining strict COVID-19 protocols for all teams on-site.
Q: How far along are we on construction?
A: The project is now approaching 70% completion.
Q: What’s happening at our current location on York Avenue?
A. All CDC, New York State and New York City guidelines for staff, are maintained at all times.
We have returned to in-person worship at both the 8:30 am and 10:30 am services. A recorded live streaming service accompanies our 10:30 service for those who cannot attend. Sunday School takes place in-person during the 10:30 am Service. The Carter Burden Network Senior Lunch program has resumed congregate dining in our air-conditioned Sanctuary. To stay current about what’s happening at Epiphany, continue to visit this website. Our clergy are available at 212.737.2720 should you have specific questions. Our regular Wednesday Evening Dinner Program has resumed with grab-and go freshly prepared dinners. When prudent congregate dining for this supper program will also resume.
Q. What’s going to happen to our current building?
A: In keeping with its historic ministry to the Health Care Community, Epiphany sold the property to the non-profit Weill Cornell Medical College. After Epiphany moves to its new location, the church building at York Avenue will be demolished and Weill Cornell will begin construction of a multistory residence hall for their medical student. This project will bring additional vitality to the neighborhood and local businesses.
Q. What are we taking from the Church at York Ave?
A. Parishioners voted on what we should take with us to our new location. All of our beloved stained glass windows have been professionally restored and will be reinstalled in the new Sanctuary and Nave including 14 new windows commissioned from Rohlf’s Studios in Mount Vernon, New York. Also, our 14th century Romanesque baptismal font will follow us there. The church’s columbarium will also be moved and enlarged.
Q: Who is in charge of the Project?
A: The Wardens and Vestry of Church of the Epiphany along with our Interim Rector, the Rev. Roy Cole, oversee the project working closely with Acheson Doyle Partners Architects and Shawmut Design and Construction Management. Owners representation is provided by Denham Wolf Real Estate Services.
Q: Who did Epiphany choose as the architect for 351 East 74th Street?
A. Acheson Doyle Partners Architects LLP, is a New York City-based architecture firm with a wide range of experience with historic preservation, institutional, and commercial projects. ADP’s projects in New York City include restoration and improvements at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, The Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, the NYU Student Center for Academic and Spiritual Life, and Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, among others.Below are three examples of Acheson Doyle's work in New York City, left to right are: restoration of St. Bartholomew's Episcopal Church; the nave of the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary; and, the reception area of the NYU Student Center for Academic and Spiritual Life.
Q: Will Epiphany continue its outreach and social programs in the community?
A.Our Wednesday Evening Feeding Program is the heart of our ministry and will continue its food ministry to our food-insecure and the unhoused neighbors as it has every week since 1985. The Carter Burden Network that was housed at Jan Hus Presbyterian Church, and now at our current location, will return to their fully renovated historic home as their work continues in partnership with the Church of the Epiphany. We will also continue to partner with Raising My Voice Kin which is a leadership training and speakers bureau for families of currently or formerly incarcerated people. Family members tell their stories to community groups, schools and elements of the justice system to diminish crime and improve recidivism rates. Racket is a ministry dedicated to helping people at an economic disadvantage gain access to menstrual hygiene products, and working to eliminate shame and stigma surrounding menstruation. And, of course CEDS, the Church of the Epiphany Day School will continue providing a quality, child centered education for our youngest neighbors. These are just a few of the programs at The Church of the Epiphany. There will undoubtedly be new ones as we move and grow in our new space at 351 East 74th Street and continue our commitment to being a relevant, vibrant, and community-focused resource on the Upper East Side.
Please continue to check back for updates to this ongoing conversation. You can contribute your own questions and comments at [email protected].