CHELSEA, Manhattan (PIX11) — Some neighbors are praying that a church built 120 years ago to serve one of New York City’s original Hispanic communities will survive another year.
They’re fighting for landmark status for Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on West 14th Street in Chelsea.
Old pictures from neighbors tell the story from the early 1900s when this former brownstone became the church. The archdiocese has not commented on plans.
Parts of the facility are still in use as workspace.
Robert Sanfiz lives and works in the neighborhood along 14th Street.
“We have to figure a way to maintain even if it’s not used in the same way. New York’s greatest strength is the melting pot. Every time you take down a little bit of not history, it becomes less of what it is,” he said.
La Nacional is next door. It was founded before the church as a community and cultural center for immigrants moving into the neighborhood. It has an event space and restaurant. They work from the location to preserve the area’s story and the church building.
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation advocates for the site and more representation of landmarks significant to the Hispanic and Spanish-speaking communities.
Andrew Berman is the executive director.
“This was the first Spanish church in the city and to lose this would be a shame. Hispanics and Latinos make up around 30% of the population. Of about 40,000 landmarks, a handful relate to that history, Berman said.
Earlier this year, Village Preservation asked the NYC Landmarks Commission to
consider designating the church an official
After researching the site and history, the commission did not approve the designation.
“As with all sites being evaluated to determine whether they merit designation as a city landmark, LPC conducted extensive research into Our Lady of Guadalupe’s history and architecture. Though the building was ultimately found not to rise to the level of significance necessary for designation, LPC recognizes the critical role that religious institutions and their buildings play in their communities, as well as the importance of ensuring that Latino/a community history and culture is represented in designations, and will continue to study sites across all five boroughs for preservation opportunities to ensure designations reflect the rich diversity of New York City,” wrote an LPC spokesperson.
The building exterior was altered in the 1920s, and another church has been serving the congregation along 14th Street and shares the name of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Neighbors want the city to reconsider this building as the first and original location of the church.
Village Preservation is organizing a campaign to ask the mayor and landmarks commission to consider more Hispanic heritage sites.