A Wise Move to Save Temple of Solomon; 'GREEK' THOMSON MASTERPIECE JOINS WORLD MONUMENTS CRITICAL LIST

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Byline: DAVID MONTGOMERY

IT merits a brief mention on Glasgow's open-topped tourist buses - but passing locals rarely give it a second glance.

Despite the fine columns that sit high above the busy city streets and the decorative tower which dominates everything around it, St Vincent Street Church is virtually unknown to Scots.

Now the 19th century church on Blythswood Hill is to join celebrated monuments including the Taj Mahal and ancient Pompeii as a threatened site.

The church, completed in 1859, is the last surviving example of three modern 'Temples of Solomon' which Glasgow architect Alexander 'Greek' Thomson designed before his death at the age of 59 in 1875.

It is widely regarded as his masterpiece but it has been neglected and its exterior stonework is badly decayed.

Without urgent repairs, the Egyptian motifs, timbered beams, and broad stone staircases leading to the upper tiers will be damaged beyond repair.

Now it will be the first building in Britain to be added to the World Monuments Watch (WMW) List of the 100 most endangered sites.

The announcement yesterday launched a campaign aimed at raising part of an estimated [pounds sterling]5million needed to restore the church, which is used every Sunday by a congregation of the Free Church of Scotland, to its former glory.

About 70 per cent of the sum is expected to come from the National Lottery and the European Regional Development Fund, and the balance from donations.

Scottish Secretary Donald Dewar yesterday accepted a [pounds sterling]30,000 donation from American Express, the founding sponsors of WMW. He said: 'The church has been put in exalted company, which might surprise some. …