German United Evangelical Church Complex - Rochester, NY
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member sagefemme
N 43° 09.653 W 077° 36.563
18T E 287864 N 4781986
Quick Description: Currently serving as Salem Evangelical Church, 60 Bittner St, Rochester, NY
Location: New York, United States
Date Posted: 12/27/2011 3:10:04 PM
Waymark Code: WMDD1W
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
Views: 4

Long Description:
"The present church building and its transverse Sunday school wing were built in 1874 to the design of architect Charles Coots. Renovations by the prominent Rochester firm of Gordon and Gaelber (architect Gordon designed the Chester Dewey School #14) in 1929 clad the exterior of the church and northeast facade of the Sunday school in a new veneer of brick with cast-stone detailing, matching a large church school/parish house building added to the southeast in 1923 and presumed to have also been designed by Gordon and Kaelber. although the 1929 renovations are reported to have been in response to city of Rochester's concerns over the safety of the tall spire on the northern of the paired towers flanking the Bittner (Franklin) Street facade, the extent and the nature of the changes suggest that aesthetic concerns were also a prime motive."

"The church is longitutinal in plan and clad in a veriegated red brick. The main, southwest facade emerges from between the asymmetrical square corner towers. The central portal, flanked by narrow round-headed windows, consists of compound, round arches of brick supported by paired columns with foliate Romanesque capitals. A simple geometrical panel of dark and light marble forms the tympanum above paired oak doors.

"The upper portion of the facade, stepped slightly back from the lower, rises from a light cast-stone belt course that runs continuously across the facade and corner towers. Above the central entry, a tripartite window is set within a recessed, round-arched brick panel. The central round-headed window, framed by columns similar to those below, is flanked by slightly lower openings in the form of an arcade. An arched corbel table accents the raking gable eave, below which a small wheel window pierces the facade at the attic level.

"The square towers wrap the corners of the main facade, projecting slightly from the main facade and sides. Stepped pier buttresses of brick frame narrow round-headed openings at the upper levels. Compound round-arched portals at the lower level complement the central entrance and open through paired oak doors to the narthex. Above the eave level, the symetry of the towers is broken; the northern tower rises above the southern as it did prior to the removal of the steeple in 1929. The towers are terminated by arched corbel tables and capped by pyramidal red tile roofs in the northern Italian Romanesque style. Ther verticality of the towers is countered by the light cast-stone belt course at the springing level of the three entry portal arches.

"The body of the church extends norteastward from the towered facade in seven bays, each defined by a shallow, recessed, round-arched panel containing a single, narrow, round-headed stained-glass windo. The original limestone window sill now rests on the cast-stone sill of the slightly larger recessed panel. Ornamentation of the brick wall is limited. A light veined marble rondel with brick surround between the arched window heads marks each spandrel and the recessed panels are framed by arches of corner-set brick rising from a cast-stone course at the springing point of the window arches. A brick arched corbel table forms a shallow cornice to terminate the walls.

"The moderately pitched, asphalt shingled roof of the church intersects the steeper gable roof of the two-story Sunday school block at the rear, matching at eave and roof peak. A shallow roof section extends rearward from the gable slope to the eave. The northweast facade of the rear wing was refaced in brick with cast stone detail in 1929, as was the body of the church. The end wall of this block is continuous with the church wall and is broken by a projecting, two-story flot-roofed stair tower and entrance vestibule. A broad rectangular bay on the first floor abuts a large, square brick chimney at the northwest corner. The school wing extends beyond the southeast wall of the church by approximately twenty feet, originally forming a shallow L-shaped plan.

"The rear and southeast facades of the Sunday school block wer not refaced during the 1929 renovations and give a sense of the original appearance of this wing. A fieldstone foundation of limestone with dressed limestone water table remains exposed at the rear. The end of a section of brown sandstone visible at the extreme northwest corner indicates the nature of the watertable on the more visible facades prior to the 1929 refacign with cast stone. The rear wall is of low-fired red brick in common bond, divided into four equal bays, of three windows each on the second and third floors separated by a wide shallow pilaster extending the full height of the wall. There is no pilaster at the corners nor between the bay at the southeast corner and its neighbor. The second floor windows are round-headed with what appears to be semicircular plywood infill above one-over-one double-hung wood sash. A broad, projecting brick surround with prominent keystone marks the semicircular window head and is continued below the spring of the opening as stepped, pendant ears. The first floor windows duplicate those above but with sigmental-arched heads. The bay at the southwest appears equal to the others but lacks the triple windows on each floor. Compound sawn brackets spring from a plain wooden cornice to support the eave on this and the souteast gable end of the old Sunday school block.

"Regarding the interior, the three portals on the Bittner street facade open directly inton the narthex. Stairs at either end lead up to the balcony level and down to restrooms beneath the narthex. The interior is finished in painted plaster with beeded oak wainscoting and oak trim, now mostly painted. The thick inner walls of the towers articulate the narthex interior, maintaining the tripartite entry scheme.

"From the narthex, three double doors open to the sanctuary. The voluminous interior is dominated by the stained-glass memorial windows extending the full height of one wall and by the choir loft, podium and organ screen filling the opposite end of the church. A U-shaped, sloping gallary wraps three walls of the sanctuary and is supported on slender, fluted cast-iron columns with foliate cast-iron capitals. The walls and underside of the balcony are finished in painted plaster. The pews of the lower and balcony levels are of oak.

"A deeply coved plaster ceiling rises from the springing level of the round-arched memorial windows, creating small lunettes with applied foliate plaster ornement. The rectangular panel of the flat ceiling above the cove is bordered by a heavy plaster molding with crockets. A large semicircular arch opens the wall between the upper narthex and the balcony. The heavy ceiling molding is continued to this wall and then to the floor framing the arched opening, itself bordered by that heavy, crocketed molding.

"Decorative corbel stops at the spring of the ememorial windows receive plaster rib moldings around the lunettes as well as plaster rib moldings transversing the ceiling. A central, longitudinal rib within the rectangular ceiling panel intersects the transverse ribs forming a grid pattern; the intersections are marked by large molded plaster rings. Within the field of the ceiling grid, circular foliate plates serve as ornamental covers for ventilation ductwork.

"The choir rises behind the pulpit and chancel; above this, a large semicircular arch matching that at the balcony level opposite, enframes the crrved wooden organ screen. Large ornamental corbal stops at the spring of the large arch receive plaster ribs from the ceiling panel and diagonally from the adjacent corbal on the sanctuary wall, creating a false squinch above the balcony corner. The sactuary aisles continue past the chancel and cchoir, passing beneath symmetrically placed stairs from choir loft to balcony, then to doors leading to the Sunday school wing. A sacristy and storage room to either side reduce the aisles to narrow, wood paneled passages at this point. The woodwork of the choir loft, pulpit and platform is of walnut and dates from recent renovations. The walls of the sacristy and storage room are finished in plain panels of walnut to match the choir and chancel.

"The doors from the church aisles, as well as those from the sacristy and storage room, open directly to a transverse hallway within the body of the Sunday school block..." (visit link)

The nomination form goes on to describe the whole of the Sunday school wing, the parish house and the vestibule block.

From the Salem Centennial booklet (1973) is a timeline of the complex assembly:
June 19, 1873 Laying of cornerstone
March 3, 1874 Dedication of church and church school building
1895 Expansion of Sunday school facilities
1898-1899 Installation of electric lighting
Sept 17, 1922 Cornerstone of church school and parish hall
June 10, 1923 Dedication of new parish hall
1923 Installation of new organ; tower chimes; new altar, chancel and pulpit (gifts from congregation members).
1929 Exterior of church renovated
1948 Approval for renovations of sanctuary and parish house
Street address:
60-90 Bittner St
Rochester, NY USA

County / Borough / Parish: Monroe County

Year listed: 1992

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Architecture

Periods of significance: 1925-1949, 1900-1924, 1875-1899

Historic function: Religion

Current function: Religion

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
Search for... Google Map
Google Maps
Bing Maps
Nearest Waymarks
Nearest U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Nearest Geocaches
Nearest Benchmarks
Create a scavenger hunt using this waymark as the center point
Recent Visits/Logs:
Date Logged Log User Rating  
sagefemme visited German United Evangelical Church Complex - Rochester, NY 12/1/2011 sagefemme visited it