Now that the Edgehill Church of Spuyten Duyvil on Independence Avenue has begun its transformation into the headquarters for the Kingsbridge Historical Society, the hard part begins.
The much-needed renovations to the former church that has been renamed Edgehill needs to start. And that means a lot more fundraising.
“It is now the urgent task of the KHS to remediate and restore the structure of the Edgehill, which for many years has fallen into disrepair,” Stephanie Coggins, a KHS member working on fundraising, wrote in a letter to The Riverdale Press. “A GoFundMe campaign has been announced, and the KHS now needs your assistance in helping them fulfill the aspirations and potential of Edgehill.”
KHS president Nick Dembowski, who recently held an open house at Edgehill, has made fundraising a priority after the former United Church of Christ building was transferred to the society. His organization is now left with having to raise at least $83,000 to fix the building, including providing heat and water. But that amount would only kick start the renovation. Estimates for a new heating system is $70,000, for the gutters it’s $30,000, and for the roof a whopping $160,000.
“We are fundraising to address our urgent need for a heating system and stabilize the building’s gorgeous and historic Tiffany windows,” Dembowski told The Press. “I think Edgehill could become something special for the neighborhood, a beautiful place to hear a concert, see a performance, exhibit or lecture — a place for neighbors to gather and meet.”
The group officially acquired the church last December. And it was especially fitting because the pastor of Edgehill, Rev. William Tieck, was the first president and founder of the society in 1949. Over the years, the building has been declared a registered historic landmark.
Edgehill is 135 years old and as a structure has stood the test of time. But for many years, its dedicated but small religious congregation was unable to address some of its most pressing issues. In addition to the lack of a heating system and the preservation of its Tiffany windows, the building takes on water during rain storms and it needs at least a coat of paint.
“We removed the old oil-burning furnace and are looking to put in a clean electric system,” Dembowski said.
The reason the fundraising goal is $83,000 is mostly to fix and preserve the Tiffany windows, according to Coggins.
“The large Tiffany window would cost $60,000 alone to restore it,” she said. “I’m not even sure if it includes the costs to replace the window sills.”
Installing a new electric heating system and having the water turned back on and painting the building make up the rest of the costs for renovation, said Coggins, who lives across the street from Edgehill.
“The building’s Tiffany windows are marvelous, a real local treasure,” Dembowski said. “But they are held up by window sills that are almost completely rotted away. It is scary, frankly.”
The Kingsbridge Historical Society is the oldest historical society in the Bronx, having been established in 1949. Since that time, the KHS has educated the public as to the rich history of Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Spuyten Duyvil and Marble Hill. In recent years, the KHS found itself without a brick-and-mortar headquarters, and its archives and artifacts have been stored in boxes, without easy access for research and review.
With the acquisition of Edgehill Church, the KHS now has a place to hold its meetings, store and organize its archives, and to plan and promote KHS and public events.