Congregants want landmark status for Wantagh church to block its sale

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WANTAGH -

Congregants of a 114-year-old church in Wantagh say they want the building to be granted landmark status in an effort to prevent its sale.

Pastor Lawton Bryant says he was invited by church members to rebuild the St. Matthias congregation into a non-denominational church. He says he succeeded, but the Episcopal Diocese sued and evicted the congregation – saying they were there without permission. It was closed in April.

The building on Jerusalem Avenue is up for sale, and Pastor Bryant says he needs a miracle to save the traditionally African and Latin American church.

“This is the only building left to represent us,” he told News 12.

The town of Hempstead Landmark Preservation Commission agreed unanimously with the congregants that the building should be granted landmark status. The commission recommended that the Town Board protect the church from being sold and ultimately torn down.

Historian Thomas Saltzman says that St. Matthias is a classic example of a turn-of-the-century, shingle-style church. However, the Episcopal Diocese says the building is not historically unique and needs to be sold.

In a statement to News 12, it says that "If this building is landmarked, it will be detrimental to our ability to support people and ministry in the communities surrounding this property."

A date for the Hempstead Town Board to vote on the landmark status of the church has not been set.

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