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Long Island churches awarded restoration funds

The bell tower at St. Paul's United Methodist

The bell tower at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Northport will be restored to its "original beauty." Credit: Raychel Brightman

Five churches across Long Island — some built in the 1800s — will receive funding to restore crumbling parts of their buildings.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy awarded $65,500  in Sacred Sites Grants to the congregations to pay for damage assessments and repairs.

St. Paul's United Methodist Church in downtown Northport received the largest amount — $35,000 — to help restore its bell tower. The church, which was completed in 1873 with the designs of architect B.T. Robbins, is hailed as the oldest existing church in the village.

Greg Polli, chairman of the St. Paul's board of trustees, said the bell tower was falling apart. 

“We’re going to restore it to its original beauty,” he said. The Main Street church is currently undergoing a $300,000 restoration project.

The conservancy announced other grant recipients:

  • Bethel A.M.E. Church in Setauket was built in the 19th century to serve a community of African Americans, Native Americans, and mixed-race families. The church received $3,000 to assist with a conditions survey of the church’s former parsonage, constructed in 1917. 
  • The First Congregational Church of Riverhead received $4,000 to help fund window restoration. The building was constructed in 1836 by builder Timothy Aldrich and later enlarged and modified in the early 20th century by local architects George H. Skidmore and William Sidney Jones. 
  • The First Presbyterian Church of Southold on Main Street received $3,500 for an assessment of the tower before a comprehensive restoration. The church was built in 1803. 
  • The United Methodist Church of Patchogue was granted $20,000 to assist with roof and masonry restoration. The building was designed by architect Oscar Teale and completed in 1890. 

The New York Landmarks Conservancy is a private nonprofit that helps preserve significant architecture around the state. The conservancy has loaned and granted more than $50 million over 45 years, according to its website. 

The Sacred Site Grant program considers the urgency, technical process, need and significance of the projects, said Anne Friedman, director of the program. There are two grant rounds per year with about 20 to 30 applications per round. Friedman said this was the largest number of grants given in one round over the program's 30 years. 

"Long Island's long history is reflected in its religious architecture," said Peg Breen, president of the conservancy, said in a news release. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story gave the wrong name for The First Congregational Church of Riverhead.

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