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Local churches receive preservation funds

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Four historic churches in the Greater Rochester area are getting help on crucial repairs and restoration work, thanks to grants from the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

The recipients: St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene Episcopal Church and Immanuel Baptist Church in Rochester, First Baptist Church on Batavia, and Christ Episcopal Church in Albion.

St. Luke and St. Simon Cyrene on South Fitzhugh Street downtown –known as Two Saints, located on South Fitzhugh Street in downtown Rochester, received $15,000 to help fund a new roof. The oldest public building still in use in the city, its cornerstone was laid in 1825, and Nathaniel Rochester was its first warden.

Immanuel Baptist Church on Park Avenue received $3,000 to help assess repairs to the church's stucco-clad exterior and slate roof. The Tudor Revival-style church was built in 1925 and was designed by Rochester architect J. Foster Warner.

In Batavia, First Baptist Church will use its $17,500 grant to help pay for repairs to the bell tower, roof, and stained glass window restoration. And Albion's Christ Episcopal Church received $3,000, which will also go to stained glass window restoration.

All of the churches are still operating, but like many older religious buildings, they need numerous repairs and ongoing maintenance, says Ann Friedman, director of New York Landmarks' Sacred Sites grant program. And the hefty cost of the work often exceeds what the congregations can afford on their own, says Friedman.

The Conservancy provides financial support because little public funding is available to religious buildings for historic preservation, she says. Friedman also helps church leaders identify architects and contractors who are experienced with this type of repair work.