I was born in Hell's Kitchen, a grimy, ugly and often dangerous part of Manhattan. When I
was very young, I heard about the demolition of Penn Station and the old Madison Square
Garden. History became very important to me -- and historic buildings are testaments to the
struggles and triumphs of a village, city, nation.
Garden City has always been a special village -- clean, with enough trees to be named a "Tree
City, USA". And glorious historic buildings -- the largest and most prominent being St. Paul's
It was unthinkable that anything could happen to an iconic building built by the widow of A.T.
Stewart, the founder of Garden City. Its chapel was the first church. It saw Charles Lindberg
when he visited Garden City before his historic flight. It's architecturally important enough to
be on the National Register of Historic Places.
When I heard that the village board of trustees believed that the majority of people in town
wanted to demolish the building, because it "would cost too much to restore", "had outlived
its usefulness" and "demolition was the only option" -- my husband, Mark, and I became the
founders of Eastern Property Owners for Saving St. Paul's and joined the Committee the Save St. Paul's, to work to raise awareness of how to save it and turn it into a community center for all of Garden City to enjoy.
Famous village residents Nelson DeMille and Susan Lucci have joined people from every part
of town to speak out against demolition.
An architect's and engineer's report that's been paid for by the Committee to Save
St. Paul's and vetted by the village's chosen firm -- twice -- shows how the building can be
restored (new roof, repointing, new mechanicals, new windows as needed, elevator, new
mechanicals and the sealing of hazardous materials, etc.) -- and 10,500 sf of the magnificent
main floor salons, including the chapel, will be turned into a community center, at a cost of
$100 per average household, which includes maintenance of the building, for 15 years.
There is a referendum vote scheduled for Wednesday, April 27th. Residents are asked to vote
to either approve the spending of $3.75 million to demolish the building, or to vote NO to
The Garden City Historical Society, the Committee to Save St. Paul's and Eastern Property
Owners for Saving St. Paul's have created a communications campaign to give residents the
facts: if St. Paul's gets demolished, here's what will happen:
1. Property values will decrease.
2. Taxes will increase to make up for the loss.
3. Demolition will release hazardous particulates into the air near two schools, playing fields
and neighboring homes.
4. Mayor Donald Brudie, who is in favor of preservation, said, "We'll just be paying (roughly
$4 million) to do the dirty work for a developer." It's a prime piece of real estate in one of the
best communities in America. Who knows what could go there, if St. Paul's is gone?
Those are the facts. Garden City residents can save St. Paul's and take the first steps to
having the Community Center it can be by Voting NO on Wednesday, April 27th, from noon to
9 pm at the St. Paul's Field House.
Francine Ryan has lived in Garden City for over 25 years. Her and her husband's advertising agency, TRG, decided to use their talent and voices to ensure that future generations of village residents can enjoy the priceless treasure that is St. Paul's.