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Here [Peter Stuyvesant] built a manor and chapel. Here he would live out his life and be buried, and here, over the parade of centuries, flappers, shtetl refugees, hippies and punks – an aggregate of local residents running from Trotsky to Auden to Charlie Parker to Joey Ramone – would shuffle past his tomb.
Russell Shorto, from his book The Island at the Center of the World
The St. Mark’s Historic Landmark Fund was founded by a group of concerned citizens in 1979 following a devastating fire at St. Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery, a remarkable East Village ensemble of buildings and landscaped property dating back to 1799. Originally founded as the Friends of St. Mark’s in 1975, which became the Citizens to Save St. Mark’s and then formalized as the St. Mark’s Historic Landmark Fund, the volunteer organization raised over $2.5 million after a fire in 1978 to support an ambitious renewal project and—in a program that drew national attention—rebuilt the church.
The 1978 fire destroyed the church steeple and consumed the sanctuary and the Parish Hall. The restoration of the buildings took 10 years and was carried out by local artisans, master craftspeople and participants of the Preservation Youth Project, a job-training program for low-income residents of the surrounding community.
In 1988, disaster struck again, when fire damaged the historic Ernest Flagg Rectory Building. Again the Landmark Fund—and the community—rose to the task, working with the Church, to rebuild the Rectory and create the Neighborhood Preservation Center. The Center is a unique and highly successful partnership of city-wide historic preservation efforts dedicated to aiding and encouraging citizen participation in the improvement of New York’s diverse neighborhoods and cultural heritage. With this initiative, the Landmark Fund hired its first staff to manage the Flagg Rectory and the Center.
The St. Mark’s Historic Landmark Fund looks both forward and back—back to the rich history of the St. Mark’s Church site, which it is committed to preserving—and forward to the future, to ensuring that St. Mark’s continues to flourish as a vital part of the community.