Firefighters put out the fire that destroyed the Epiphany Church’s original location in 1963. Fifty years ago, the church reopened in a new location. (Town & Village photo)
By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Epiphany Church on Second Avenue will be celebrating a number of milestone anniversaries in the next year, beginning with the 50th anniversary this coming week of the congregation’s reopening after a devastating fire. The blaze gutted the church only five days before Christmas in 1963, on December 20, destroying a landmarked building that had been in the neighborhood since 1870. The church was able to reopen exactly three years later in 1966.
“The new building didn’t even have pews for that first mass, just folding chairs, but they wanted to have the service on the same day as the fire to show how quickly the community came together,” parishioner Richard Sawicki said of the new building’s reopening.
Sawicki, who currently lives on Second Avenue across from Epiphany, was not a member of the church at the time of the fire but joined the congregation not long after the new building opened, and has been interested in the church’s history for a number of years.
On Monday, a court ruled that the family of Mark Chanko, a former resident of Stuyvesant Town whose death in 2011 after being hit by a truck was filmed for the show “NY Med,” couldn’t have unlimited access to the footage.
The Chankos had hoped to get access to over 50 minutes of footage, which had been used for a four-minute long segment of one episode of the ABC reality mini-series. That episode featured Chanko’s treatment in his final moments, including his death. The Chankos had argued the footage should be turned over to them, because they consider it part of Mark’s medical records.
The family sued after the show aired in 2016 since the footage of Chanko was taken without his or his family’s knowledge or permission. Chanko was shown with his face blurred and his voice altered. However, his widow, Anita, recognized him immediately.
Arguments were heard last Wednesday, and according to Ken Chanko, Mark’s son, who also lives in Stuyvesant Town, both the attorney for ABC and the hospital, New York Presbyterian, argued that the footage should remain sealed. ABC is no longer a defendant in the ongoing litigation alleging breach of patient privacy which is now just against NY Presbyterian and the elder Chanko’s physician, Sebastian Schubl.