Li-Saltzman has been working with this church since 2001. They started with the restoration of the exterior - restoring the brick, replacing the roof, recreating the missing stone turrets and the structural stabilization of the roof trusses. In 2009, once the exterior envelope was stable and watertight, the restoration of the sanctuary interior began. Probes of the paint-covered plaster showed the original finish to be imitation stone. Each “stone” had a slightingly different tint. Surfaces were stripped and restored “stone” by “stone.” Rosettes were faux-gilded to match the original. Walnut pews were refinished to high-light the beautiful wood.
It took two more years to complete the project. After a decade of work, Brown Memorial has been returned to its original appearance and luster. Indeed, photographing this assignment I was inspired by the work of my colleagues and by the spirit of the congregation. I sought to creatively balance the light from the sconces, chandeliers and LED bulbs so that their combined glow could reveal the divine beauty of this historic sanctuary as well as find the perfect composition to record the architectural details.
On April 25th 2012 the New York Landmarks Conservancy awarded Li-Saltzman Architects a “Lucy G. Moses Preservation Award,” for their restoration work on the Church. The Awards, nicknamed the “Preservation Oscars,” are the Conservancy’s highest honors for outstanding preservation of historic structures. I was proud to have taken the photographs that documented their project and to know that those images helped Li-Saltzman receive the recognition they deserved.