Founded in 1808, Grace Church has been a spiritual home for generations of New Yorkers. Originally located in Lower Manhattan on Broadway at Rector Street, the congregation prospered in its first building, creating programs of music, outreach, and Christian education that continue to be the cornerstone of Grace Church’s ministry today.
With the arrival of Thomas House Taylor as rector in 1834, the congregation came to a crossroads: it had outgrown its relatively humble home downtown and needed a new building to accommodate the northward migration of its members. In 1843, a new site was chosen in what was then an apple orchard at the corner of Broadway and 10th Street. To design the new church, the congregation considered many established architects, but instead commissioned an untested novice, James Renwick, Jr. Only twenty-four-years-old at the time, Renwick was a civil engineer who had yet to design a building. Nevertheless, the Building Committee challenged him to create a majestic new Grace Church in the increasingly popular Gothic Revival style. Despite few precedents in the country, Renwick enthusiastically began work on the project, drawing on many architectural publications as sources for his elegant design. On March 7, 1846, his newly completed masterpiece was consecrated at Broadway’s distinctive bend. It stands as an early and significant example of the Gothic Revival movement in the United States.
What We Have Done
In the past decade, Grace Church has accomplished several phases of interior restoration. The work was funded by the Bicentennial (2008) and the Power of Grace (2012) capital campaigns, which together raised approximately $7 million. A significant draw of approximately $7 million from the Grace Church endowment was also necessary to complete the projects.
With these monies, we restored the ceilings and walls of the south transept, chancel aisles, choir, and sanctuary to their original beauty. Further, we restored the adjacent Honor Room, as well as sixteen stained glass windows, including the magnificent Te Deum window rising above the altar.
In addition to restoration, we installed the ninety-seven rank, five-thousand pipe Bicentennial Organ, which is in daily use at worship services, rehearsals, and concerts. To support the massive weight of the organ, new supports were fitted underneath the north and south transept, and chancel floors. The organ also necessitated the installation of two new energy-efficient air-handling units to regulate heating and cooling in the church. Lastly, fire protection was extended to the basement as a further safeguard for the entire building.
Lift Up Thine Eyes:
What we plan to accomplish in this campaign
Restoration of High Ceilings — Up to $2,000,000
Complete plaster consolidation, finish, and painting of the high ceilings across the entire nave, crossing, and north transept; and restore all ornamental fixtures. In October of 2015, several pieces of plaster fell from the nave ceiling. As a precautionary safety measure, a team of specialists was brought in to ‘sound’ the entire ceiling, testing every surface and removing any loose pieces of plaster. While those pieces have been removed, it is imperative that we restore the entire expanse of the high ceiling for the benefit and safety of all who worship, rest, and pray at Grace Church.
Summary and Cost Estimates
Supervision and General Conditions - $290,000
General Conditions include preconstruction costs, project management, site supervision,
protection, clean up, general labor, and workplace safety for a three month period.
Plaster Consolidation, Finish, and Paint - $1,120,000
Consolidation and restoration of all high ceiling areas and ornamental fixtures, including nave, crossing, and north transept.
Scaffolding, Site Work and Electrical Work - $390,000
Scaffolding at all high ceiling areas, as well as debris carting, and professional cleaning
at the conclusion of work. Temporary lighting and power for work lights, negative
pressure fans, and power tools. The cost also includes measures to protect the high
Construction Contingency - $200,000
This anticipates any significant cost overlays that might be encountered during
Restoration of Grace Church Endowment - $600,000 to $1,000,000
(or more if the challenge goal is met or exceeded)
Every dollar raised beyond what we need to restore our church high ceilings, we will pay back into our endowment.
In the wake of the most recent restoration, Grace Church was left indebted to itself. To complete the work, we borrowed $7 million from our endowment. The endowment is now approximately $11 million, of which a draw of no more than 5% is critical to meeting our annual operating expenses. To secure Grace Church’s continued vitality, we remain committed to repaying this loan.
A replenished endowment will invigorate the program life and ministry of Grace Church. It will generate increased income to our operating budget and thereby relieve pressure on the annual budget. We will be in a better position to afford regular restoration and maintenance, rather than relying on successive capital campaigns to complete additional work on our church building. Taken together, the restored endowment will help secure Grace Church’s future as a vibrant New York City landmark and house of prayer in our community.