Repairing St. Mark’s Arch

By Janine Sutton and Claire Webb

Left: St. Mark’s Church In-The-BoweryRight: Covered for repair, the arch leads to the West Yard.

Continuing our 40-year relationship with St. Marks Church In-the-Bowery, we are currently working on a project to restore the brick arch entrance to the West Yard.  The Edelman Partnership worked with the Preservation Youth Project in 1975 to restore the West Yard, still used today for quiet reflection.

Left: Details of the arch’s deterioration. Right: The arch was covered for safety.

Because the Church is a New York City landmarked building, we needed the Landmark Preservation Commission’s approval for construction work. As part of this process, we worked closely with the St. Mark’s Historic Landmark Trust to compile historic documents and photographs of the Church and the arch.

The arch can be dated back to the 1920s as evidenced by the two photographs below. One photo from 1920 shows the gate with no arch; you can just make out the outline of the arch from another photograph taken by the New York Times in 1929.

Left: Photo taken on January 20th, 1920. View from E. 10th St looking west from 2nd Ave – No arch.        

Right: Historic photo from the New York Times, 1929 – The arch is present.

Upon inspection, the arch showed signs of minor repair over the years, but had since deteriorated beyond restoration. We carefully chose the brick and mortar to match the original materials and construction began in mid-March. Upon demolition of the arch, our suspicions were confirmed; the brick arch had been constructed enclosing the existing metal fence. The deterioration of the fence inside had caused the brick arch to crack.  While the arch has been repaired, the fence and gate are currently removed for restoration.

Starting construction. Bottom right: You can see how much the arch had cracked prior to construction.

Building the arch.

The wood form allows the mason to execute the curve of the brick arch.

Check back in a few weeks for pictures of completed project when we have restored this historic arch to its previous condition as a gateway to the Church’s west yard.

Photos courtesy of Felicia Mayro and Janine Sutton. Thank you to Ms. Mayro and the St. Mark’s Historic Landmark Trust for their assistance with this post.

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