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Letter: Access Denied for Tour of St. Paul’s – It’s Still Worth Saving

On the morning of Feb. 11, two representatives of the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) braved through blizzard conditions for a pre-arranged visit to St. Paul’s. At the urging of The Garden City Historical Society, aided by several trustees, the tour had been scheduled a week earlier. Their visit was supposed to give them a firsthand look inside the building.

They intended to use the viewing to provide advisory input that might help to support preservation. Trustee John Watras arranged for the tour, with the support of Trustee Don Brudie and Trustee Andrew Cavanaugh, who also met the SHPO reps and Historical Society members when they arrived at St. Paul’s.

Village administrators cited insurance and liability concerns for not following through with the St. Paul’s tour, even though the SHPO representatives wrote to the village saying that they were willing to sign a waiver and wear protective gear. After years of neglect and mismanagement, village officials now claim the historic main building is no longer safe for visiting. But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth saving. Now more than ever, The Garden City Historical Society and The Committee to Save St. Paul’s call upon the village to work with preservationists to save our village treasure.

Preservation groups throughout the region have promised to work together with us toward a sound, fiscally responsible alternative plan to demolition. Spending millions to crush the main building into rubble is not the answer.

In the coming months, the debate over the main building’s future will be reaching a new crescendo. The Village will soon be releasing an environmental impact report on demolition for public response and comment. Notwithstanding the Village’s recent reticence to allow interested groups into the building, the public has the right to know what they will be losing if the main building is demolished. The Historical Society and The Committee to Save St. Paul’s will be sharing photographic and video evidence of this irreplaceable monument to Alexander Stewart. A free DVD, “Save St. Paul’s Now: Protect Garden City’s DNA,” is available to Garden City residents through the Historical Society; please request a copy at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The video is available for viewing online at the CSSP “News” page (www.save stpauls.org) and on the home page of the Historical Society (www.gardencityhistorical  society.org).

The Executive Committee of the Committee to Save St. Paul’s