Historic East Harlem Church Wants Security Fence Outside its Stoop

EAST HARLEM — A century-old church set to complete a multi-million dollar restoration wants to install a fence they say will protect the homeless people that sleep on the church steps every night.

Saint Cecilia Catholic Church has stood at 120 East 106th St. since 1883. More than 500 people attend their Spanish-language services on Sunday mornings.

The church is particular popular with Mexicans, Ecuadorians, Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, said member Alejandro Torres, 66.

“It’s the best church in Harlem,” he said in Spanish.

The church is also popular with a group of homeless people who have been sleeping on the church’s stoop for years. They mostly keep to themselves and eat at the food pantry sponsored by the church, said Wanda Santos, 50.

“They don’t bother anybody,” she said.

To cap off a year-long restoration project, that involved repairing the crumbling facade and roof, the church wants to install a four-foot fence in front of the steps. A similar fence was installed with the church in 1883 but was removed before the building was landmarked, said Arthur Sikula of Arthur John Sikula Associates, the organization working on the restoration.

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By Gustavo Solis | July 30, 2015

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