Volume 75, Number 10 | July 27 - Aug. 2, 2005

Washington Square church is sold

By Albert Amateau

The lawyer for the new owner of the historic Washington Square United Methodist Church, 135 W. Fourth St., said this week that she would appear at the Community Board 2 Landmarks Committee meeting on Mon. Aug. 1 to outline plans to convert the church to residential use.

Melanie McMurray, of Greenberg Traurig, told Doris Diether, chairperson of landmarks, that she would represent the developer at the 6:30 p.m. meeting at the Silver Building of New York University on Waverly Pl. and Washington Square East.

The church, built 145 years ago, is in the Greenwich Village Historic District and cannot be demolished. Jay Lonschein, the accountant for the church, confirmed on Tues. July 26 that only the interior would be altered to accommodate residential units. Lonschein declined on Tuesday to identify the developer or the purchase price.

The parsonage next door has also been sold, but is being sold again, Lonschein said. In January, real estate sources said the entire property was on the market for $13 million, or $810 per square foot.

On Nov. 7 last year, the Methodist congregation attended the last Sunday worship at the church, built in 1860, and marched to their new house of worship, Trinity Chapel, the former New York University Catholic Center on Washington Square South. The congregation is able to rent the chapel because the Catholic Center merged last year with St. Joseph’s Church on Sixth Ave. at Waverly Pl. and now shares the space with the parish.

The United Methodist congregations last year decided that renting space for worship and other programs had become a more practical option than maintaining the church and the parsonage, two old and decaying landmarks.

Washington Square Methodist Church had been the home over the past 40 years of social action groups ranging from the Black Panthers and Metro Community Church to Gay Men’s Health Crisis, various dance, theater and music groups and community housing development organizations.

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