The spires of Newark’s South Park Presbyterian Church, designed to resemble an ancient greek monument, are immediately recognizable to anyone who has visited Lincoln Park.
The long abandoned church, which fell victim to a fire in 1992, is one of those landmarks that become etched in the memory. Now, with the help of Gensler, it could finally see a restoration after three decades in limbo. The architecture firm released renderings — published in the Positive Community magazine — of a six-story building that would rise behind the preserved 19th-century facade at 1033 Broad Street.
The church, which is individually listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is notable for having hosted a speech by Abraham Lincoln, who stopped here en route to his inauguration in Washington, DC. Before the fire, its design was admired by architectural historian Donald Gever, who authored the National Register nomination.
“The detailed execution of this plan in this instance has no superior in the city of Newark,” Gever wrote.
The project could be a bellwether for the turnaround of Lincoln Park Historic District, which includes Symphony Hall and several Gilded Age mansions, including the former home of brewer Christian Feigenspan. The neighborhood has fallen ill to drugs and prostitution, but community leaders like the Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District, the building’s owner, are spurring a revival with arts initiatives, such as the Lincoln Park Music Festival.
The current proposal for a 60-unit residential building marks a change in plans from 2017, when renderings emerged to convert the property into a performing arts space, Jersey Digs reported. Since then, LPCCD has diversified its mission to develop more affordable housing in the community.
“We want to create harmony and hold space for native Newarkers and “new” Newarkers who see Newark as a great place to live-work-play and thrive,” Anthony Smith, executive director at LPCCD, told Jersey Digs.