Salam Church demolished

Another Bay Ridge church is history. The Salam Arabic Lutheran Church on Ovington Avenue near Third Avenue was demolished earlier this month, a little more than a year after being purchased by a developer.

The sanctuary, which opened in 1942 and is modeled on the cathedral in Copenhagen, was purchased from the Lutheran Synod by Xi Wu, who plans to construct a five-story, 25-unit apartment building on the site.

The church is the second religious building on the block to be taken down; the Bay Ridge United Methodist Church, which stood at the corner of Fourth Avenue for over 100 years, was demolished in 2008 to make way for development. When the bottom fell out of the residential construction market, the site – minus the church building – was sold to the city’s Department of Education which is presently constructing a school there.

Even though the demolition of the Salam Arabic Church was expected, it still was felt by those who loved the vintage structure. “It’s terrible,” noted preservationist Victoria Hofmo. “I feel sorry for the whole block. It lost a lot, and people on the block have two construction sites going on. People think this can go, that can go. It’s heartbreaking.”

Nor are the two churches the only ones that the neighborhood has lost recently. Other Bay Ridge churches that have closed in the past several years include the Fort Hamilton Presbyterian Church, which shut its doors in 2009, and Salem Lutheran Church, which was sold in 2010 to St. Matthew’s Churches, a largely mail order ministry headquartered in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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