Nearly 170 NY houses of worship open for tours this weekend

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Nearly 170 historic religious institutions across New York state will show off their art, architecture and history this weekend.

The New York Landmark Conservancy's sixth annual "Sacred Sites Open House Weekend" is being held Saturday and Sunday. Sixty-five sites in New York City and 103 in other parts of the state will open their doors for tours.

Among them is Manhattan's Riverside Church, which boasts a 400-foot bell tower and a 1930s pipe organ.

On Staten Island, Christ Church New Brighton overlooks New York harbor. The 1905 neo-Gothic Episcopal church was designed by Philadelphia church architect Isaac Purcell.

Shearith Israel-Chatham Square Cemetery in Manhattan is America's first Jewish congregation. Some of its members fought in the Revolutionary War.

A 1925 synagogue in Queens, Astoria Center of Israel, has exquisite decorative murals by French art deco painter Louis Pierre Rigal. The only other examples of his work in New York City are at the Waldorf-Astoria in Manhattan.

Elsewhere in the state, Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church in Binghamton, built in the late 1800s, is a Victorian Gothic distinguished by its carved limestone trim and rugged bluestone walls.

About 200 miles north is the Unitarian Universalist Church of Canton, a Romanesque Revival structure built in 1897 of local gray marble. The congregation helped found St. Lawrence University.

The conservancy's sacred sites program provides aid for the restoration of culturally significant religious properties. In its 30-year history, the program has awarded grants totaling $9 million to more than 750 religious institutions.