Faulty towers

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This is the church, this is the … well, this is the church.

Sheepshead Bay’s oldest house of worship is tearing down its iconic steeples because the appendages are so deteriorated they could fall off and rip apart the rest of the building.

“It’s causing cracks that you can see from across the street,” said United Methodist Church Pastor Jay Kyung Kim.

Church officials made the decision to remove the steeples after several consultations with engineers. Demolition at the Ocean Avenue church, located between Shore Parkway and Voorhies Avenue, is expected to begin within the next few weeks.

The caretaker of the church said he’ll miss the 142-year-old towers, which are taller than any other structure on the block.

“I’m very said that they’re coming down,” said James Smith, who has run the Saturday flea markets at the church for the past 10 years. “It’s iconic and the skyline just won’t be the same.”

News of the dismantling was first reported by the website

Pastor Kim said the demolition won’t disrupt Sunday services, which are usually attended by between 50 to 100 people. Kim, who has been pastor for six years and performs services in both English and Korean, declined to disclose the cost of the work, but he said that his congregation hasn’t raised the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would required to replace the steeples.

Unstable steeples are a perpetual problem for churches, as their height and limited access makes them difficult to maintain. Steeples can become damaged over time due to weather, and often have to be removed.

But another church in the area with faulty towers, St. Mark’s on Ocean Avenue between Jerome Avenue and Avenue Z, is restoring its steeples, which were damaged in a storm last year.

The United Methodist Church was built in 1869 and hasn’t seen a major renovation since 1925.

The city has never issued any violations for the steeples, but longtime neighborhood residents agree that the towers have seen better days.

“It’s unfortunate to see them go but they clearly need to be removed,” said Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo. “You can just tell by looking at them.

Updated 3:00 pm, October 19, 2011
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