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Landmark Status Sought For Methodist Church


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The large window to the left may be from Tiffany.

The Verona Landmarks Preservation Commission has approached the Town Council to designate the Verona United Methodist Church as a town landmark.

The church, which sits at the corner of Montrose Avenue and Hill Streets opposite the back parking lot of Our Lady of the Lake church, was built in 1909 and its exterior still has most of its original details, including windows that have been tentatively attributed to the Tiffany workshop. The building is topped with a two-tiered cupola that is visible from just about every corner of Verona. The present church was the second building for Verona’s Methodist community, which the Landmarks commission says was the first congregation to organize in Verona, back in 1833.

But the interior may be more remarkable than the exterior. The church is a so-called Akron Plan structure, which means that some of the interior walls can be raised or lowered to change how the space appears. If, before the annex was built on back, the church needed a space for a Sunday school class, it lowered a wall. If it needed to make more room for worshippers on Christmas, the walls came up. The walls are raised and lowered through a system of pulleys, which is still in place under the dome.

Pulleys in the bell tower help raise and lower the interior walls.

If approved by the Town Council, the Methodist Church would be come only the second landmarked structure in Verona. In February 2010, the commission was given the green light to give landmark status to the Erie Railroad Freight Shed at 62 Depot Street. In Verona, landmark designation is done with the express consent of property owners. Landmarks commission chair Jane Eliasof told the Town Council at its last meeting that, while landmark status will not prevent an historic structure from ever being demolished, it will ensure that proper procedures are followed for changes to that building.

And in the case of the Methodist Church, it may help the congregation, which is now presided over by Pastor Sharon Burniston, to raise outside funds to maintain the building. Eliasof told the council that if Verona grants the church landmark status, it could pave the way for landmark designation by the state and access to larger, state-level historic preservation funds. Though Akron Plan construction was common in 19th-century Methodist churches, there are few examples of it left unaltered in New Jersey.


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Virginia Citrano
Virginia Citranohttps://myveronanj.com
Virginia Citrano grew up in Verona. She moved away to write and edit for The Wall Street Journal’s European edition, Institutional Investor, Crain’s New York Business and Forbes.com. Since returning to Verona, she has volunteered for school, civic and religious groups, served nine years on the Verona Environmental Commission and is now part of Sustainable Verona. She co-founded MyVeronaNJ in 2009. You can reach Virginia at [email protected].


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