The large, stone rectory of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Bridgeport is in need of extensive repairs. The church has applied for a demolition permit, because it is unable to spend the money to do the necessary work and the building is not essential to its needs. However, the church would prefer to find a way to keep the building standing. As yet, the right solution has not emerged and the 90-day demolition delay for historic structures has expired. Finding an organization or individual that would agree to rehabilitate the building in return for a lease at a nominal fee would be the preferred solution, as long as the proposed use of the building is compatible with the church’s mission. Time is of the essence.
The rectory is part of an important religious complex, which is located in a key position just on the edge of Bridgeport’s downtown commercial core. Along with St. John’s Church and the other buildings in the complex, the rectory is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. James Renwick, Jr., architect of the renowned St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, designed St. John’s Church in the Gothic Revival style. Renwick was one of the country’s leading architects in the nineteenth-century. The church was completed in 1875.
In 1900 the widow of a former rector left the church a bequest to build a stone rectory in the same style as the church. Local architect Guy C. Hunt designed the substantial Gothic Revival building, which was finished in 1903. The two-and-a-half-story rectory is located on the northeast corner of the church property and oriented toward Park Avenue. A gabled pavilion projects from the front façade, and a crenellated parapet tops a stone porch. The interior was most recently used as offices. A large central hall is finished in Flemish quarter-sawn oak with a beamed ceiling. Fine detailing exists throughout.
Urgent repairs, including fixing the leaking roof, are estimated at $210,000. A second phase of necessary work is estimated at about $900,000. A third phase could bring the total project to $1.5 million depending on the amenities required. The church will consider a 99 year lease at $1 a year for the right applicant. Contact: St. John’s Episcopal Church, 203-335-2528.