Rebuilding a Serbian Church After an Easter Fire

Three years after a fire nearly destroyed it on Easter Sunday, the Cathedral of St. Sava may soon have a new roof. (Photo via NY City Lens)

For another year, the congregation of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava joined members of the St. Eleftherios Church for Good Friday service. The Greek Orthodox church has been hosting the Serbian parishioners after their cathedral on West 25th Street in Manhattan burned down on Easter Sunday in 2016.

In covering the ceremony, Jennifer Doherty of NY City Lens writes that the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral bought the building, which was constructed in 1850 as an Episcopalian chapel, and the parish home next door, in the 1940s, renaming it St. Sava after the patron saint of Serbia.

Having recently settled with its insurance provider, the cathedral is now developing the masterplan for renovating the compound. On Easter Week three years after the fire, church leaders were hopeful that construction of a new roof would begin sometime in May.

Before it burnt down, St. Sava’s was a focal point for New York’s Serbian community, which includes roughly 9,000 New Yorkers who self-identify Serbian ancestry, according to the 2015 American Community Survey.

The cathedral drew crowds, both religious and secular, with frequent concerts by visiting musicians held in the parish home.

“Everyone who came from Yugoslavia, Serbia, went there,” says Milan Knescelec, a longtime parishioner, recounting how he met Charles Bronson’s stunt double, a fellow Serb, at a cathedral concert and later went to work for him as a flower salesman.

Go to NY City Lens for what “officially” caused the fire, why the detritus had to be manually removed by hand and more on the state of the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral.

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