Preservation League of NYS

Excellence Award Spotlight: Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew Exterior Restoration

“We are very grateful to receive this award from the Preservation League of New York State in recognition of an exceptional team effort to initiate this project and bring it to completion,” said Rev. Andrew Durbidge, Rector of St Luke & St Matthew. “This parish church has existed on this site since 1841. The building represents the hard work and faithful contributions of many parishioners over these many years. It is a magnificent building and a tribute to past parishioners’ faithfulness in God. We carry on their legacy in caring for this landmark in Clinton Hill, to benefit future parishioners and the local community.”

Designed in the Italian Romanesque Revival style by the Brooklyn architect John Welch and constructed between 1888 and 1891, the Church of St. Luke & St. Matthew is a polychromatic masterpiece employing seven unique stone types on its monumental primary façade. In 2017, after two fires (one in 1914 and a second in 2012) and more than a century’s exposure to the elements, the Church parish embarked on a restoration project with Li/Saltzman Architects.

The carefully planned and executed restoration program took approximately five years. The entire façade was cleaned and sounded before removing deteriorated stone back to stable substrate. Of the multiple stone types, the brownstone was found to be in the most deteriorated condition, with many units losing up to one-half of their total depth. In the end, approximately 466 brownstone units required partial or full unit replacement. The replacement of the brownstone units was a significant undertaking which required the measurement of each individual replacement unit, laser scanning, the creation of full-size templates, and the preparation of anchorage and shoring shop drawings. While the brownstone restoration resulted in the most unique set of challenges, the overall scope of restorative work was extensive and intended to re-establish the Church as a physical beacon in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. Other notable aspects of the restoration included the cleaning and removal of surface delamination of yellow stained bluestone; the replacement of 59 highly deteriorated red brownstone colonette shafts with cast stone units; the replacement of broken and missing encaustic tile flooring with new units fabricated in England using the same historic process as the originals; restoration of damaged stained glass windows and the installation of new clear glass vented protective glazing; removal of a non-matching red asphalt shingle roof at the Belfry and replacement with new grey slate shingles matching the historic; and the replacement of a non-historic sheet metal cross at the Belfry with a new copper cross recalling the historic design and proportions.