The eye-catching building of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Manhattan was reconstructed several years ago. However, rebuilding the church now costs $85 million.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Reconstruction
The old St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church was destroyed when Tower 2 of the World Trade Center collapsed due to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. After lengthy discussions with the New Jersey and Port Authority of New York, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America was granted permission to construct a new St. Nicholas Church at the eastern end of the new Liberty Park, directly above the World Trade Center Vehicle Security Center.
According to Religion Unplugged, His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, the 95-year-old primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, had a vision for constructing the entire church. He stated that “the design for the church must respect the traditions and liturgy of the Greek Orthodox Church, but at the same time must reflect the fact that we are living in the 21st century.”
The church fulfills all the requirements; nonetheless, it is essential to note that the renovation, which required a great deal of ingenuity and perseverance, cost $85 million and took 21 years to complete. A few factors contributed to the lengthy duration of this church’s reconstruction effort. The first problem, which is also the most evident, is the delay in collecting payments. During the beginning of the reconstruction project, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and the Port Authority of New York each pledged ten million dollars toward its completion. Numerous parishioners were also trying to collect money to reopen the church, but they were unsuccessful as the building designs and costs continued to inflate and get delayed. Over time, the number of legal disputes and disagreements over contracts increased. The expenses associated with rebuilding the church continued to grow until they reached $85 million, an exceptionally high cost for such a small place of worship.
The church’s prime location also made reconstruction difficult and political. News clippings concerning the church’s protracted gestation illustrate funding and construction delays. In addition, Greek Orthodox leaders participated in the 2010 controversy over a lower Manhattan Islamic center. Many New Yorkers protested the proposed Islamic center, which supported St. Nicholas’ rebuilding. When the church had acquired the political approvals, engineering and construction resources, and financial money to pay for the project, all these were rendered entirely irrelevant. In July 2022, the church held a consecration, and in December of that same year, it opened its doors to the general public for worship services.
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Architectural Side of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
Based on an article from Architectural Digest, pentelic marble, the same type of stone used in the construction of the Parthenon in Athens, was used in the reconstruction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was heavily influenced by the architecture of Byzantium. The shape of the church is defined by four towers covered in stone and supporting a massive dome. This particular form was primarily inspired by a mosaic found at Hagia Sophia. The mosaic depicts the Virgin Mary sitting on the “Throne of Wisdom.” The outlines and shapes in the artwork gradually transformed into the outside of the church as Calatrava worked his way through a series of watercolor paintings.
Moreover, a narthex, porticus, nave, iconostasis, and sanctuary are within Saint Nicholas. Inside the dome of Saint Nicholas are representations of 20 prophets interspersed between 40 windows and 40 ribs, the same amount of ribs found in Saint Nicholas. According to His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the Shrine would be a location for anybody who visits the Sacred Ground at the World Trade Center. It would be a space for people to think and envision a society where forgiveness is possible, kindness is unavoidable, and reconciliation is desirable. The church is located on the campus of the World Trade Center at an elevation of approximately 25 feet above street level. It is only slightly higher than the canopy of the World Trade Center Memorial oak trees, which are located nearby.
Related Article: New St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church Opened at World Trade Center