In 2010, Tenth Church of Christ, Scientist New York City announced the completion of the renovation of its historic building at 171 Macdougal Street in Greenwich Village. The first services in the renewed facility were held during the summer that year.
The project, which took 7 1/2 years from conceptualization to realization, has brought a fresh, modern church facility, including a new auditorium for services, a Sunday School, and a Christian Science Reading Room, together with administrative offices to the Greenwich Village community.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder and Discover of Christian Science, provided this definition of Church in her renowned book, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures:
CHURCH. The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle.
The Church is that institution, which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.
On March 14, 1919, a group of members from Christian Science churches in Manhattan met in agreement to organize Tenth Church of Christ, Scientist. The first service was held on March 23 of that year in the Chapter Room of Carnegie Hall, West 57th Street. After two years in various locations, Tenth Church decided to move to the vicinity of Washington Square, as there was no Christian Science church in Manhattan below 42nd Street. On July 10, 1921, the first service was held in a room at 21 East Eighth Street, but increased membership and attendance demanded an enlargement of borders, and in 1923 new quarters were found on Waverly Place.
The building, originally a factory constructed in 1891, was designed by Renwick, Aspinwall &Russell. In its early years, the six story structure was used as a printing plant. Tenth Church of Christ, Scientist, purchased it in 1927, and renovated it to include a first floor auditorium and second floor Reading Room, Sunday School and church offices. In 1966, with a desire for a more up-to-date look and more useful facilities, the Church again renovated the lower floors of the Church, with modernist architect Victor Christian Janer giving it a starkly modern design. Throughout the building’s life as a church, the upper floors of the building were never used.
In 2000, as building systems became increasingly antiquated, and the large building’s upkeep a drain on church finances, the Church explored whether to move or to find an on-site solution. It ultimately decided to convert the building into condos, selling the upper floors to a developer – Property Markets Group. for conversion into apartments, and completely redesigning the lower floors for church purposes. It commissioned the firm of Hanrahan Meyers Architects to carry out the design work. The project was split into two properties: Tenth Church occupies the first floor and the basement, with Hanrahan Meyers as their architects. The upper floors were sold to developers PMG who hired TRA Studios to design new residential condos.
The project entailed the removal of the 1967 modernist façade, reverting to an updated version of the original façade. The project has been supported by both the Historic District Council and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. The project was also approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Faith & Form magazine conferred the 2010 Honor award to this project, and it has also been featured by the Architectural League in their “New York Designs” program.