By Jessica Easthope
The stone walls inside St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral are the originals. Compared to the rest of the ornate church they’re not much to look at, but they’re part of why it’s been nominated by Governor Kathy Hochul for the state and national registers of historic places.
“Because of the history of this building and the history of this community being an immigrant church originally the two things combined went into this 70-something page document that was submitted,” said Father Thomas Zain the archpriest of the cathedral.
The State Street church which was first built as an Episcopal church in the 1850s joins a list of 19 other buildings. It became an Orthodox church in 1920, growing with a Syrian and Lebanese immigrant community of faith.
Father Thomas Zain says the nomination opens up opportunities for grants that could help his renovation project to add an elevator, handicap bathrooms and an access ramp.
“One of our concerns was is it like landmark status because with that you need permission to change a lightbulb and we didn’t want that because we knew we’d be doing these repairs but she said no it was just an honor for the cathedral,” said Father Zain.
So much of the church’s history can be seen from the outside, but Father Zain hopes this new title draws people in.
“While we’re still waiting for a lot of our older people to come back we’ve gotten a lot of new parishioners so hopefully this is another vehicle to evangelize and for people to hear about the church that are searching for a spiritual home,” he said.
The church has already been approved for the state historic place registry and is waiting for approval on the national level.