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Historic Greenwich Church Gets Six Signs

The Board of Selectmen voted Thursday to allow additional directional signs around Greenwich for the town's only historic black church, Bethel AME on Lake Avenue. The Rev. Tynisha Drennon said she was satisfied with the agreement the selectmen reached.

The church was granted a total of six signs that would direct visitors to the church, located at 44 Lake Ave. The signs will be placed at Arch Street at Greenwich Plaza just off Exit 3 from Interstate 95; Arch Street and Soundview Drive; Field Point Road and West Putnam Avenue; two at the Lake Avenue traffic circle; and one at the Perryridge Road and Lafayette Place traffic circle.

Selectman David Theis argued against a seventh sign at Field Point Road and West Elm Street, saying he had consulted with parishioners at Bethel AME who said GPS technology might negate the need for so many signs. “I want to be fair with everyone in town,” he said. By discussion’s end, Theis agreed to the six signs but noted his reservations.

In the past, other religious and civic organizations have requested directional markers, but Greenwich typically has allowed just two. No specific policy is in place, but it has been the town’s practice. “It definitely would be setting a precedent,” said Melissa Evans of the town department of public works.

The historic church is an exception, the selectmen said in their meeting Feb. 3 when two of the six signs were approved. The church was recognized recently as one of the town's 291 historic sites — the only religious entity in Greenwich to receive this status. It is also considered a landmark on the National Register of Historic Places .

The church will celebrate its 138th anniversary at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, when the Greenwich Preservation Trust will present a plaque to the church. First Selectman Peter Tesei said he would also issue a proclamation honoring the church’s history for the celebration.

Be part of the conversation: Do you think more signs will be requested by other organizations as a result of the approval for Bethel AME?

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