Epiphany 351: Faith on the Move
Q: Is Church of the Epiphany moving?
A: We are! In the spring of 2022, Epiphany will move its parish and The Church of the Epiphany Day School (CEDS) into the historic Jan Hus Church at 351 East 74th Street. Jan Hus, which Epiphany purchased in 2018, is just one block west of Epiphany’s current location and has been 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 the preservation of the church's historic façade. 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 making this move?
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 its ministry, outreach programs and Day School. Proceeds from the sale of our current building at 1393 York Avenue allows Epiphany to completely renovate Jan Hus Church and grow its ministries to be a more effective resource within the community. Moving one block west will provide Epiphany with an additional 15,000 square feet of space.
Q. What are the plans for the new church?
A. Two years into the project, Epiphany’s commitment remains to build a structurally sound building that is fully ADA accessible and energy efficient, while meeting the needs and expectations of a 21st century parish. Interior spaces will be totally reconfigured. The re-designed sanctuary 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 and 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 1,000 meals a day. The Church of the Epiphany Day School (CEDS) will also have a new home across two floors with accesses to a gymnasium and rooftop play area.
Q. How will The Church of the Epiphany Day School (CEDS) be different?
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 energy-efficient windows. Full in-person instruction at the new site begins in September of 2022. The 2021-2022 school year continues in its current classrooms 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 and parish events.
Q. What is 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 in place is new steel framing and enlarged window openings to bring more light into the sanctuary.
Q. Have there been any challenges in reconstructing the site?
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 reconstructing each floor to ensure unobstructed movement between the buildings.
Q. Has the Covid-19 Pandemic affected construction?
A. Yes. Due to the citywide building moratorium in 2019, construction stopped for nearly four 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 approaching 70% completion.
Q: Has in-person worship returned ?
A. Yes, 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. All CDC, New York State and New York City guidelines for staff and parishioners are maintained at all times.
Q. What will happen at our current building?
A: In keeping with its historic ministry to the health care community, Epiphany sold the property to the nonprofit 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 for their medical students. This project will bring additional vitality to the neighborhood and local businesses.
Q. What are we taking from our church at York Avenue?
A. Parishioners voted on what we should take 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. Our 14th century Romanesque baptismal font will follow us there, and the church’s columbarium will be moved and enlarged.
Q: Who is in charge of the project?
A: The Wardens and Vestry of The Church of the Epiphany, along with our Interim Rector, the Rev. Roy Cole, oversee the project, working closely with Acheson Doyle Partners Architects, P.C., and Shawmut Design and Construction Management. Owners representation is provided by Denham Wolf Real Estate Services.
Q: How was the architect selected?
A. Acheson Doyle Partners Architects (ADP) 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 Night Dinner Program is the heart of our ministry and continues to provide hot, nutritious meals to our food-insecure and unhoused neighbors, just as it has every week since 1985. The Carter Burden Network, which provides lunch to seniors every day, was formerly housed at Jan Hus Presbyterian Church. In partnership with Epiphany, it now operates at our current location. The lunch program will return to its historic home in the spring. We will also continue to partner with Raising My Voice - Kin, a program that teaches leadership and public speaking skills to families of currently or formerly incarcerated people. Family members learn to tell their stories to community groups, schools and elements of the justice system to diminish crime and improve recidivism rates. Racket is a ministry that provides people at an economic disadvantage access to menstrual hygiene products, and works to eliminate shame and stigma surrounding menstruation. The Church of the Epiphany Day School (CEDS) continues to provide quality, child-centered education for our youngest neighbors. New ministries will be added once we move to our larger space. Our commitment to being a relevant, vibrant, community-focused resource on the Upper East Side will remain as we continue to grow.
Please check back for updates to this ongoing conversation. You may contribute your own questions and comments here.