Last days for Harlem's old Baptist Temple Church

Updated: Mar 29


Last days for Harlem's old Baptist Temple Church

A green plywood fence now surrounds the old Baptist Temple Church at 18-20 W 116th Street—and there's a demolition permit out front—meaning the building's days are officially numbered.

Last days for Harlem's old Baptist Temple Church

A new 11-story development with 28 apartments will take its place, with the church returning to the basement and first floor, according to New York YIMBY.

The demolition is part of a Harlem-wide wave in which old churches are being torn down or repurposed as congregations shrink and the price of upkeep skyrockets.

Last days for Harlem's old Baptist Temple Church

Baptist Temple has a fascinating history. It was built in 1906 as a synagogue for Congregation Ohab Zedek in a neighborhood that at the time was home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world.

Today you can still find Stars of David atop the building's two towers and a line of them above the columns on either side of the entrance. (See the original building here.)

Last days for Harlem's old Baptist Temple Church

In 1938—a mere 32 years later—Baptist Temple Church acquired the building and has been there ever since.

In 2009, after a crack appeared on the facade (possibly due to nearby construction work), the church was partially demolished, but the congregation eventually replaced the roof and part of the facade with modern elements.

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