Performing Arts Space Planned for Church Near Newark’s Lincoln Park

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newark new jersey the facade
Rendering credit: Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District

A Newark neighborhood that is already home to a variety of art spaces and music events could soon have another cultural venue.

According to City records, plans appear to finally be moving forward to develop an “outdoor performing arts space” called the ‘The Facade’ at 1033 Broad Street, just across the street from Lincoln Park in the Central Ward. The center is set to be developed by the local non-profit Washington Street-based Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District, Inc. (LPCCD), and the proposal calls for the developer to “restore, stabilize, and preserve” the historic South Park Calvary United Presbyterian Church, which is located on the premises, and subsequently build out ‘The Facade’ from the building.

In order to develop the project, the Newark Municipal Council adopted a resolution during its meeting on August 22nd to authorize an agreement with the LPCCD to provide a $250,000 grant from the Community and Economic Development Dedicated Trust Fund. The remaining portion of the $2,380,058 cost of the project is expected to come from foundations, corporations, and donations, according to the resolution, which states that the City funding is due to the fact that “the project currently has a significant funding gap that must be bridged in order to make the project financially feasible.” At least 40% of the construction workers must be Newarkers and 30% of the contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers for the development of ‘The Facade’ must be based in the city.

The agreement was executed by the Newark Department of Economic and Housing Development, whose Director, Baye Adofo-Wilson, co-founded and was previously the Executive Director of the LPCCD.

Rendering credit: Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District

The South Park church dates back to 1855, and it has been owned by the organization since 2005. It is among the most historic churches in the region, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. According to the LPCCD, notable church architect John Welch designed this structure, and Abraham Lincoln, for whom the park across the street would later be named, gave a speech on the steps of the church on February 21st, 1861 while traveling to his presidential inauguration.

In 1992, according to the Kresge Foundation, a fire damaged most of the church, and only the facade with its landmark towers remains to this day. ‘The Facade’ was initially proposed several years ago, but only now is the project moving forward. Renderings posted on the LPCCD’s website show that it will include a stage adjacent to the church itself with an urban farm in the rear.

Should this performing arts space be completed, it will join other venues in this part of the city, including nearby Newark Symphony Hall, City Without Walls, and the Lincoln Park Music Festival.

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