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Celebs Mark Ruffalo and Matt Damon Trying to Save Historic NYC Church Building

11-10-2023

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Actors Matt Damon and Mark Ruffalo are teaming up with a dozen faithful congregants of New York City's West Park Presbyterian Church to save the building from being demolished and erased from the city's landscape. 

The Hollywood A-listers are siding with preservationists who are fighting developers on replacing the sepulcher with a luxury condo development worth more than $30 million, The Real Deal reports.

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The 19th-century architectural structure on West 86th Street needs repair. But developers contend that repair costs would outweigh the financial gains, possibly double the price of just selling the property. 

Structural engineer Don Friedmansug suggested repairing the church's exterior could be done for as little as $1.7 million, the New York Post reports. 

Celebrities like Damon, Ruffalo, Amy Schumer, and Common have joined the cause arguing that the current nonprofit theater inside the church holds more cultural value than building another condo.

"Listen, the building needs work," actor Mark Ruffalo told ABC News. "I mean, if you walk down any of these blocks, you'll see, you know, 15 percent of the buildings have got scaffolding in front of them. But that doesn't mean it's falling down."

The group of celebrities have joined an effort to raise money for repairs by starring in a play called, "This Is Our Youth" on Nov. 16.

Tickets start at $500. Ticket prices for the second performance on Nov. 17 will top at $250, The New York Times reports. 

Debby Hirshman, the center's executive director, told the outlet the goal is to raise $300,000 for the church.

Kenneth Lonergan, the play's writer, said Damon was immediately on board for starring in the production. 

"I explained the situation to him and immediately he said, 'I'm in,' which is what I thought he would say if he was available," Lonergan said, "and as a matter of fact, he had an apartment one block away from the church for a year or two, maybe. This is going back a ways." 

Lonergan said Damon wanted to "keep what's special about the neighborhood special."

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About The Author

Talia
Wise

Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for CBNNews.com, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.