On October 16, 2012 the Church of the Covenant (originally known as Central Congregational) was designated as a National Historic Landmark (NHL) by the National Park Service, Department of the Interior.
The team effort for NHL status was lead by Preservation Planner Lynn Smiledge (of Menders, Torrey & Spencer architectural firm, now Spencer, Sullivan & Vogt) and Building Committee members. This was an incredible accomplishment, as there are only 2,527 designated National Historic Landmarks in the nation that are deemed “nationally significant” by the National Park Service for representing “an outstanding aspect of American history and culture.” The small number of NHLs is all the more remarkable in comparison to the more than 95,000 sites of significance on the National Register of Historic Places.
The lengthy process included an exacting review by NPS staff. In order to apply, the team had to prove the “exceptional significance” of the Tiffany interior by evaluating it in comparison with all extant complete Tiffany church interiors in the country. After being allowed to continue with the application, an authority on architecture at the NPS oversaw it through the process, bringing up questions from an outside expert and answering others. The final steps included a presentation (by Charlene James) in Washington before the NPS Advisory Board Landmarks Committee, made up of national experts in American art and architecture.
Church of the Covenant received this coveted designation because it has the largest intact Tiffany-designed ecclesiastical interior in its original location in America, embodying Tiffany’s aesthetic principles of artful decoration, beauty, color and complete design unity. Called the “most complete” Tiffany-designed church interior nationwide in a NPS publication, the artful space includes a gigantic glass lantern, rare Tiffany glass mosaic and 42 large Tiffany stained glass windows, many in need of preservation.