Over the past couple of years, I’ve posted about my childhood church on multiple occasions. The last one was bittersweet, as it was the first of a few postscripts to the journey I’ve been on: that is, re-acquainting myself with the church and its members, and the miracles that allowed that process to move forward.
And today I’m sharing the near-end game to the physical re-structuring of the church. I visited and was allowed into a couple of the still-vacant apartments. The photos on the website (Gallery – The Chapel Hillside Apartments (thechapeltroy.com) are more attractive and professional than I could take with my phone. But I’m including below some of my own photos that show features that were not in their gallery. Most of the apartments are already rented, so I only had access to two. And there’s a lot of work still to be done externally.
The buyer of the church building was a developer from NYC with a plan to convert the church structure into multiple high-end apartments. The purchase agreement required the buyer to retain the flavor of the church origins of the building, including salvaging as many stained-glass windows as possible, incorporating the ceiling beams, and retaining the historic 1916 cornerstone.
Frankly, I couldn’t picture how that would be possible, while making the apartments comfortable and appealing to renters, regardless of their spiritual leanings. Yet, for the most part, they struck a balance between the old and the new. For example, the arches of the old stained-glass windows and a few of the small ones are visible from the outside, while the actual windows of the apartments are modern and energy efficient. Parts of the arched beams from the sanctuary are incorporated into second floor apartments in the former sanctuary area.
Here are some photos (taken with my phone, not professionally) that show the features not obvious in the gallery photos:
Retained stained glass windows – visible from outside but not inside the apartments:
Stairway to balcony apartment (to be refinished):
Beams from sanctuary ceiling incorporated into apartment (to be refinished):
Green space behind former church hall (in progress) – will include barbecue equipment, trees, grass, benches:
The apartments target RPI students, and incorporate basic furniture along with high end countertops and appliances. The website does not list pricing. Shuttle service to and from the RPI campus will be available.
Initially, upon reviewing The Chapel website, I reacted negatively to the description of the building’s history:
“The Chapel was originally constructed in 1916 as a refuge for immigrants seeking shelter from persecution overseas.
The Chapel has been a haven for thousands of people in its 100+ years on 9th street. Today, The Chapel continues to serve the Troy community as contemporary housing for RPI students”.
The description didn’t reflect the drive of the Armenians, as proud Christians since around 300AD, to build a home for their worship and fellowship in their new homeland. And then, to my surprise, there was a link for readers to learn more about the history—taking them to the May 13, 2020 post from this blog!
While it’s still sad that our church is no longer a church, we can be pleased that what our ancestors created over a century ago wasn’t simply discarded and torn down. Instead, it has a new life and a new purpose—and our cornerstone, wooden arches and stained-glass windows will forever be a reminder of its proud beginning. And I can’t help believing that the spirits of our ancestors will watch over the building and its inhabitants.