Category Archives: News

Wall Street Church in Auburn demolished

Wall Street Church in 2016

This week PACNY’s five-county region lost another historic structure. The African Methodist Episcopal Church on Wall Street in Auburn, NY – known informally as the Wall Street Church – finally came down after years of uncertainty. As part of PACNY’s “Eight That Can’t Wait” threatened properties list in 2018, the Wall Street Church symbolized the plight of urban neighborhood churches across PACNY’s five-county region:

“Central New York’s historic places of worship in urban neighborhoods face acute threats not only due to high costs of building repair and maintenance, but also because they are more apt for consolidation with other nearby congregations and may be in neighborhoods facing high levels of poverty and population decline. Once closed, there are often substantial challenges in finding new, economically viable uses that can sustain architecturally intricate buildings with large auditoriums.”

After the removal of the steeple, windows, and bell.

A description from 2018 described the significance to a local community of color, and eluded to the potential for reuse:

“Located across the street from the walls of the Auburn state prison, the former Wall Street Methodist is a National Register-listed Gothic Revival-style auditorium-plan brick church built in 1887. The building is also notable for its 19th century biracial congregation that counted Harriet Tubman’s nephew among its members. The church became home to Auburn’s A.M.E. Zion Church in 1993, but the congregation was unable to afford major roof repairs, and vacated the building in the early 2000s. The building has since stood vacant, and its brick walls are crumbling. The building has recently changed ownership to a private individual who has not publicized plans for the property. Challenges for preservation and adaptive reuse include significant structural deterioration, the church’s location in a marginal neighborhood remote from downtown or other commercial areas, and its lack of local designation under Auburn’s preservation ordinance. Despite this, the building’s listing in the National Register makes it eligible for lucrative tax credits, and its spacious auditorium plan would make an ideal space for a community center, performance space, or a support facility for the state prison.”

The demolished Wall Street Church

Despite losses such as the Wall Street Church, PACNY continues to monitor the status of threatened properties across Central New York, and will work with any municipality, organization, or individual to conserve the unique cultural and architectural heritage of our region.

Proposed negative changes to the National Register will not be implemented, thanks to advocates like you!

In April of 2019, the National Parks Service proposed some changes to the laws which guide and regulate the listing of properties to the National Register of Historic Places. These changes threatened to undermine the spirit under which the Register was first established by law, to give unfair and undemocratic advantage to the wealthy, and to give the power of saving a significant property to the federal government rather than the state and local authorities. These changes would have affected both architectural and archaeological resources.

The proposed changes sought to eliminate the voice of the SHPO’s when it came to Federal properties, or land under control of a Federal agency. This would have included everything from a local historic post office to tracts of ancient and sacred Native American land. It was a clear and transparent attempt to open-up protected (or protectable) land for development. Another change to the rules would have been a shift in the very concept of the one-person, one-vote concept giving the “veto power” the largest property owner within a proposed district.

These protocol changes were all geared toward the same end: to reduce state and local power in favor of the federal government and to open up protected land to development and destruction. However, thanks to the advocacy work of preservation groups and ordinary citizens across the country. This kind of advocacy is as crucial now as it was in the earliest days of historic preservation in America. To all our neighbors who sent their comments to the NPS, or who contacted their local representatives and told them not to pursue these changes – thank you!

PACNY receives 2020 New York State Historic Preservation Award!

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (NYSOPRHP) has awarded PACNY with a 2020 New York State Historic Preservation Award for Excellence in historic Preservation organizational Achievement!

After a tumultuous year in which our organization met a variety of challenges, PACNY is emerging with a renewed sense of purpose and energy. Despite the obstacles we have all faced, the support of our membership and fellow preservation advocates has kept us moving forward into the future (but with an eye to the past of course)!

In 2020, we held our first virtual awards ceremony on November 6, 2020 and awarded seven recipients for their work advancing historic preservation in Central New York. The entire presentation is available on our newly launched YouTube channel!

PACNY also served as a co-sponsor of the 2020 Statewide Preservation Conference, conducted virtually December 1-3, 2020 and attended by hundreds of preservationists throughout the northeastern United States.

2021 is shaping up to be an exciting year for PACNY, so please stay tuned to our social media platforms to get the latest updates!