Plymouth Church is graced with a historically important and expansive facility. Its size is especially significant because it is located in the densely populated urban setting of Brooklyn Heights. The Plymouth campus consists of five structures (arranged in the shape of an “H”) plus three outdoor spaces that, taken together, occupy half a city block.
Hillis Hall is the oldest structure on the campus, the one in which Plymouth Church began. It is now used as the Church’s fellowship hall and is also rented out as a large-event space. On the second floor of Hillis Hall, there is another approximately 6,000 feet of high-ceilinged space, which is currently inaccessible and unused.
The Church House at 75 Hicks Street is the hub of our organization. On the lower level, there are newly remodeled Plymouth Church School classrooms, which double as Sunday school classrooms, and our maintenance offices. On the first floor are the church parlor, music study, school office, and kitchen. The second floor contains more PCS classrooms. The third floor is where the church offices and ministers’ studies are located, and on the fourth floor are the Facilities Manager’s apartment and a teen group room.
The Gymnasium, built as an exercise center for the congregation and the local community, is large enough to contain a full-size basketball court and an elevated track. This facility has multiple uses today and is home to a variety of school and rental activities, social events, fundraisers, exercise classes, and programs run by groups from the community. The upstairs area at the front of the gym is currently being used for our Underground Thrift Store. Downstairs is a large space, currently used for ad hoc storage, that was originally part of the bowling alley in the basement.
The Arcade is the crosspiece of the campus’s “H” configuration. It is an atrium hallway that connects the 19th-century buildings with those of the 20th century. Portraits of Plymouth’s former ministers line the walls, and a piece of Plymouth Rock, originally from Church of the Pilgrims, is on display.
Outdoor spaces include Beecher Garden, which is a formal garden fronting on Orange Street and located between the Church House and the Sanctuary, backed by the Arcade. The garden contains a statue of Henry Ward Beecher and a bas-relief of Abraham Lincoln, both by Gutzon Borglum, who later sculpted Mount Rushmore. North of the Gymnasium, on the corner of Hicks and Cranberry streets, is the Cranberry Playground, used by PCS and the children of Plymouth Church. There is also a small landscaped but unused lot abutting the Sanctuary on the east, lovingly referred to as the Lost Acre.
The Parsonage sits across Hicks Street from the church house and is a four-story, 5-bedroom clapboard townhouse built in 1843.
Several major restorations were completed in the past decade, including work on the exteriors of all five buildings, Beecher Garden, and the interiors of the newer buildings (creating new classroom spaces for an expansion of PCS) as well as upgrades to heating and fire-protection systems. Still, the church saw the need to commission an in-depth and thorough facilities study in 2012. As a result of this, we now have a comprehensive road map from which we have assembled a much-needed prioritized plan for managing the upkeep of this sacred and treasured facility.