In May 2017, the parishioners and community of Center Moriches, NY, a tranquil Long Island South Shore’s hamlet, were stunned to learn that a member of the community attempted to set fire inside St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church and later took his own life on the premises. The altar area and sanctuary caught on fire, and the smoke damage to the building interiors was so vast and intense that it infiltrated all the mechanical systems, lighting and the insulation behind the walls.
Built in 1898, the original St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, a Gothic Revival wooden frame structure with stucco walls and a unique copper-clad steeple, was beloved by many. The tragic events of May 2017 presented an opportunity to move ahead not only with the building damage repairs but also to blend new with old and to bring back some of the rich architectural features of the original historic interiors to a beloved place of worship within the community.
For BBS, the design challenge was clear – to faithfully restore areas affected by fire and smoke, and to “translate” desired program functions into the interior character of the church – while fully maintaining its historic integrity. In concert with the parish committee, BBS designers accomplished just that by re-introducing the original, early-century navy-blue color scheme to the building’s interiors, ceilings, and the main altar – which was once installed in St. Augustine Church in Brooklyn, New York, and later transported and reassembled to Center Moriches. New wood-visual porcelain tile altar enhanced the same “revival” theme which is further accentuated by richly stained polished concrete floors and gold leaf accent painting throughout the church.
The insurance settlement allowed the parish to proceed with the damage repairs along with various long-overdue upgrades to the building infrastructure such as LED lighting, theatrical lighting and dimming systems, sound systems, mechanical and electrical equipment, and ADA access to the raised sanctuary. The updated program also called for reducing existing nave seating and replacing all pews with new while expanding the music/chorus area adjacent to the sanctuary.
Other improvements to the church comprised complete removal and full restoration of all damaged interior flooring, new paint, cleaning of stained-glass windows and statuary, installation of new ceilings, a new side entry door with structural repairs to surrounding walls, the replacement of all mechanical ductwork and equipment, and installing new sprinklers and life safety devices.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre representatives and parishioners of St. John the Evangelist rededicated the newly restored church on June 23, 2018.
- Client: The Diocese of Rockville Centre | St. John the Evangelist Parish
- Location: Center Moriches, New York
- Completion: Summer 2018
- Cost: $2,360,000
- Services: 3d Visualizations + Renderings, ADA Design, Architectural Design, Electrical Engineering, Fire Protection + Life Safety, Historic Preservation, Interior Design, Mechanical Engineering, Plumbing Engineering