The challenges of the redesign of the facade of All Saints Church were the creation of an image for the church that would evoke its earlier history, and the transformation of the building to a visible presence and an architectural contributor in an exceptionally mixed streetscape.
Originally constructed in 1894, by the 1950s the original Romanesque and Gothic-inspired brownstone façade had deteriorated to such an extent that the facade was refaced in stucco, the original ornament removed, and the doors and stained glass windows replaced with unsympathetic contemporary designs. The church retained its tripartite gabled form and cornerstone but little else from the 1894 design.
The inspiration for our design came from the architecture of Alexander Jackson Davis as well as nineteenth-century pattern books for wooden “carpenter gothic” churches. This presentation of gothic is more naïve than literate, but its “yankee” quality seemed appropriate for a small nineteenth-century chapel originally established as an outpost of a larger parish.
The design focused on enriching the streetscape. The facade is built up from the texture and deep shadows of vertical ribbing and horizontal string courses, the earthtones of New York’s brownstone blocks, and a rich array of materials. New entrance steps flanked by nineteenth-century-style lampposts and an evergreen garden enhance the pedestrian experience for both parishioners and passersby. High in the central gable is a new stained glass window, designed by the noted stained glass artist Sylvia Nicolas.
At a practical level, the project provided the opportunity to make the church more welcoming, more accessible, and more comfortable.