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First Presbyterian of Northport, NY, Begins $1.8 Million Renovation of Historic Church

Plans include 9,000-square-foot addition to the 138-year-old structure.

The congregation of 225-year old First Presbyterian Church of Northport is undertaking an extensive renovation of its historic church and community services facilities in Northport, NY.

The $1.8-million project is a result of a three-year planning and fund-raising campaign, which raised $1.35 million.  It will be the most substantial change to the congregation’s structures since 1958.

In 1872, the congregation built the current Northport church.  Henry Scudder Sammis and his son Charles employed ship carpenters to build this new church.  To help offset the costs, the new church incorporated architectural elements removed from their church located in Vernon Valley.  The church also features structural elements recycled from whaling ships, including 12-inch-diameter basement columns, which originally served as sail masts.

Baldassano Architecture designed the renovations and a new community services building.  Stalco Construction serves as construction manager for the project, which encompasses renovations to the historic church structure as well as demolition of the existing administrative building and construction of a new, 9,000-square-foot community services, education and office center.

The congregation’s Pastor, Reverend Timothy Hoyt Duncan says, “The re-construction of the interiors will make nearly all of our buildings handicapped-accessible.”

Although the congregation is exempt from the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, the church members and the design team decided to apply the ADA guidelines in their design solutions. The exterior ADA-compliant ramp access to the building will be provided at both the south entrance and the north sanctuary.  Internally, a new elevator, ramp and fire-rated stair will connect all floors and maintain legal egress. Renovations to the church will include 3,000 square feet of ADA upgrades and renovations in selected areas.  These will include removal of steps and other foot traffic obstacles, as well as upgrades to the building’s electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems.  The church will be fully air conditioned for the first time in its 138-year history.

Stalco will perform construction in challenging conditions, which include limited site access and work taking place in an area adjacent to historic structures, which will remain in operation during the project.  Stalco will shore up and reinforce the church and provide temporary building services, including power, water, and plumbing, to ensure uninterrupted church services and community activities.

The historic beauty of the sanctuary, built in 1872, will not diminish.  “The steeple that everyone loves and the classic look of the sanctuary, inside and out, will be the same as they are now,” says Church Facilities Renovation Task Force Chair Charlene Cosman.  “We have committed ourselves in this renovation to honor our traditions while we’re building for the future.”

“This renovation is about more than just our congregation having an up-to-date building,” added Pastor Duncan.  “It is also about our congregation having a building that will allow us to expand our service to the community.”

First Presbyterian Church and its affiliates are actively involved in the community, both locally and overseas.  The church has been home to Weekday Nursery School for more than 40 years.  A member of First Presbyterian Church founded what has become the Ecumenical Lay Council Food Pantry.  The pantry currently provides over 150 local families with food and other essential items at no cost.

The congregation supports Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana in Heampstead, NY, which focuses its services on the Spanish-speaking community.  The church also provides medical and financial support to the community of Nueva Paz in Cuba, through collaboration with a local Presbyterian congregation.  In addition, the church hosts programs that include Cub Scouts and the Al-Anon support group for families struggling with substance addictions.

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