As May came to an end, the New York City Fire Department was investigating the fire that gutted the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava, an individual landmark at 15 West 25th Street in the Flatiron District. Authorities and engineers were studying the structural integrity of the remains, and have now declared the church “too unstable to be left standing,” the New York Post reported. That means the main house of worship will be demolished. The rectory portion of the cathedral, which was unscathed during the fire, currently also has Landmarks protection, which should mean it won’t be demolished with the main structure. The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has the option to de-designate the property, too, but we think, at the very least, the LPC will want to keep the rectory a landmark. The Executive Board of St. Sava will now decide if they will rebuild on the property or relocate. The site has 244,450 square feet of mixed-use development rights, minus the usable square-footage of the rectory.
Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St Sava
As this month got underway, we brought you the unfortunate news regarding the landmark Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava at 15 West 25th Street, designed by Richard Upjohn, the architect of the Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan. The 1855 building, which was the city’s only house of prayer servicing the Serbian Orthodox community, was reduced to a charred stone shell on the evening of May 1, just hours after the Orthodox Easter celebration. While the church is collecting donations for reconstruction, the authorities are investigating the fenced-off site for the cause of the conflagration, while engineers keep an eye on the ruined building’s stability. The building is a New York City landmark and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Although the city’s laws protect the building from further demolition, the stone shell may be torn down if ultimately deemed dangerously unstable. Fortunately, the walls appear to be structurally sound for the time being, though serious reinforcement work would be permitted only after the investigations are complete.
The May 1 celebration of Eastern Orthodox Easter was marred by the tragic fire at the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava at 15 West 25th Street, which reduced the landmark building to a charred stone shell. Aside from minor smoke inhalation by the church caretaker, no one was injured in the four-alarm blaze. The same cannot be said for the church building itself, which was reduced to a charred ruin.