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Thread: St Brigid Church - Tompkins Square

  1. #31

    Default The Novare

    If you want to see something really classic, just follow this thread on

  2. #32


    St. Brigid’s protection is extended

    By Albert Amateau

    St. Brigid’s Church received another reprieve last week from the wrecker’s ball when the Appellate Division extended a temporary restraining order barring the Catholic Archdiocese of New York from demolishing the 1849 church building.

    The church on Avenue B across from Tompkins Square Park, though decrepit and unoccupied for two years, is still repairable, said Edwin Torres, president of the Committee to Save St. Brigid’s.

    The fate of the building, designed by Irish-born architect Patrick Keely and built by Irish boatwrights who worked in the East River boatyards, has been before two State Supreme Court judges and a panel of Appellate Division judges. Successive restraining orders have prevented the archdiocese from razing the “famine church.”

    The latest restraining order is expected to protect the church from demolition at least until late spring or early summer, pending a decision on the appeal.

    “It’s great to see St. Brigid’s will still be standing as another spring arrives, nearly the 160th spring since it was built,” said Torres. But it was touch and go for a while. Last July 28, in between successive restraining orders, wrecking crews dispatched by the archdiocese knocked a hole in the rear wall and smashed painted-glass windows.

    A restraining order by State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick prevented further demolition. But Kapnick lifted the injunction after she ruled against the Committee to Save St. Brigid’s on Feb. 13.

    The March 5 restraining order will remain in effect until the Appellate Division decides on an appeal to Kapnick’s ruling that the state Religious Corporations Law does not protect St. Brigid’s from demolition by the archdiocese.

    “It’s great news for parishioners and the community united behind saving St. Brigid’s, especially so close to St. Patrick’s Day,” said Keavy Ann Gleason, a member of the committee.

  3. #33


    May 21, 2008, 12:47 pm

    Donor Gives $20 Million to Save St. Brigid’s

    By Sewell Chan

    Updated, 5:35 p.m. | An anonymous donor has come to the rescue of St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church in the East Village, saving the building — which has presided over Tompkins Square Park since 1848 — from demolition and making it possible for the structure to be reopened as a parish church.

    The Archdiocese of New York announced this morning that a donor had come forward with an “unexpected but very welcome gift” after a private meeting with Cardinal Edward M. Egan, the archbishop of New York.

    The gift includes $10 million to restore the building, at 119 Avenue B; $2 million to establish an endowment for the parish “so that it might best meet the religious and spiritual needs of the people living in the community”; and $8 million to support the St. Brigid’s School and other Catholic schools in need.

    The announcement stunned a group of parishioners and neighbors who have been waging legal challenges since 2005 in an effort — so far unsuccessful — to compel the archdiocese to keep the church open.

    “We are ecstatic,” said Edwin Torres, 50, the leader of the group, the Committee to Save St. Brigid’s, who had been a member of the parish for 25 years. “The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. This came as a complete surprise. It blew us away.”

    Cardinal Egan expressed gratitude in a statement:

    This magnificent gift will make it possible for Saint Brigid’s Church to be fittingly restored with its significant structural problems properly addressed. The two additional gifts, to create an endowment for the parish and to support the parish school, are a powerful testament to the donor’s goodness and understanding. He has my heartfelt gratitude, as I recently told him at a meeting in my residence.

    The church was built by Irish immigrants who had fled the potato famine in the 1840s. Financial hardship has evidently been a longstanding part of the parish’s history. An 1889 article [pdf] in The Times reported that the parish was finally consecrated after a 40-year effort to repay its debts.

    The church has witnessed momentous changes in the neighborhood. In 1991, the pastor of the church and two other clergymen were arrested on disorderly conduct charges when they crossed police lines to deliver food to protesters holed up in an apartment near Tompkins Square Park, which was the site of clashes between protesters and the police. In 1995, Pope John Paul II visited St. Brigid’s School — which was already suffering from declining enrollment — during a pastoral visit to the United States.

    The church’s main building closed in 2001 because of structural problems, and the final Mass, in the basement of the Catholic school next door, was held in 2004. Despite fund-raising efforts, protests by parishioners and lamentations by Mary Gordon, a writer and memoirist who teaches at Barnard College, the church was scheduled to be closed.

    Supporters of the church filed two lawsuits, one in 2005 and another in 2006. The first suit was dismissed, but the second has wound its way through the courts. The second lawsuit asserted, among other things, that the archdiocese had not properly obtained demolition permits; that the archdiocese had not properly convened a meeting of the parish’s board of trustees to meet the closing; and that, when the board finally met, it violated a state law that requires that trustees make their decisions in “support and maintenance” of the house of worship.

    In July 2006, a day after demolition work began, a State Supreme Court justice issued a temporary restraining order halting the work. But in February 2007, the lawsuit was dismissed, a ruling that was affirmed on appeal. In January of this year, the plaintiffs, appealing yet again, got permission to bring the case to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

    Marisa A. Marinelli, a partner at the law firm of Holland & Knight who has been representing the Committee to Save St. Brigid’s since 2006, described today’s announcement as a “very positive development,” but said that the committee members had to learn more details and have a discussion before deciding whether to drop their pending appeal.

    Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said that a precise date for reopening the parish had not yet been set.

    “We obviously need to talk to priests in the area,” Mr. Zwilling said in a phone interview this morning. “It’s also going to take some time to restore the building. This is something that’s going to take months, at the very least, if not a couple of years. We can’t really tell yet. We’ve got architects who are starting to develop plans. Then we’re going to have to hire construction firms to do the work. There are significant structural problems that need to be repaired.”

    © 2008 Observer Media Group

  4. #34
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    My great, great granma O'Toole (nee Carroll) will be very pleased to hear this.

  5. #35


    Superb! Until recently, I worked for Holland & Knight. (I recently left as I'm moving to Charlotte, NC.)

  6. #36
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    in Limbo


    ^ So do we get to call you a redneck hick from now on?

  7. #37


    That's funny.

  8. #38



    Upon This Rock, a Church of Cracks

    Published: June 15, 2008

    THE hole in the back of St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church in the East Village, big enough to walk through, is nailed over with blue plywood now. The tall arched window frames along the side, where construction workers smashed the old painted-glass windows on a day almost two years ago when it seemed the whole building would be razed, are covered in plexiglass.

    Christian Hansen for The New York Times
    St. Brigid's Roman Catholic Church in the East Village.

    Some of those window coverings are broken, too, so a visitor standing in just the right place on the sidewalk can look up and see the peeling white paint on the ceiling inside, or the birds roosting in the rafters above where the altar used to be. Those birds have been among the only living visitors to the 160-year-old church since the Archdiocese of New York closed it in 2001 for financial and demographic reasons.

    The demolition was forestalled, first by prolonged legal appeals by neighbors and parishioners, and more recently by an anonymous donor who last month pledged $20 million for the church’s restoration, its continued upkeep and an endowment for an adjoining Catholic school.

    That means the church should reopen one day, but a walk around the building and a peek through the fencing and scaffolding that surround it show just how far the money will have to go.

    Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said last week that architects had been hired, but plans had to be finalized, building permits secured and firms engaged before work could begin. Moreover, because the Trinitarian order that used to provide staff to the church is no longer there, the archdiocese will have to find a new pastor to oversee construction.

    There is no timetable for the work, Mr. Zwilling said, adding, “You don’t, overnight, just put a church back together.”

    Some of what must be undone is the archdiocese’s own demolition work, undertaken during the years when the plan was to use the land under the church for some other form of ministry. “Had they been permitted to continue, the church would have been rubble,” said Roland Legiardi-Laura, who lives across the street from the church on East Eighth Street. “That was their intention at that point.”

    Mr. Zwilling, who maintains that the archdiocese had the right to demolish the church, said far more damage had stemmed from a crack near one of the church’s rear corners that led to the church’s closing in the first place. There is a several-inch-wide gap between where the rear wall is and where it used to be, he said, a gap that has caused damage to the wall, ceiling, floor and foundation.

    “We were told by construction engineers that the building could collapse at any point,” Mr. Zwilling said. In its current condition, he added, it still could.

    For Mr. Legiardi-Laura, who said the church provided comfort during the 1970s and 1980s, among the neighborhood’s most difficult years, the anonymous donation seems like an opportunity for the archdiocese to raise even more money, to return the building to its former glory, including a restoration of twin spires that were removed decades ago.

    The work that remains is not just physical. The congregation will also have to be restored. Edwin Torres, chairman of the nonprofit Committee to Save St. Brigid’s, said only three parishioners remained on the committee’s 12-member board and he and his wife, Migdalia, were two.

    But Mr. Torres does not blame those who drifted away. “As years went by, they just got tired, and they said, ‘Oh, we’re not going to win this,’ ” he said. “They kind of lost faith.”

    Over the years, Mr. Torres has declined an invitation to sit on another church’s board, citing loyalty to St. Brigid’s, and he still donates to the archdiocese’s fund drives.

    In the weeks since the donation was announced, he has heard from several St. Brigid’s parishioners who are interested in coming back. Some had drifted to Mary Help of Christians Church on East 12th Street, but that church has closed now, too.

    As for St. Brigid’s, it has been a rough period, Mr. Torres said, but the end is in sight. “As you can see, she’s still standing,” he said. “She’s weathered several winters exposed to the elements, and she hasn’t come down.”

    More dispatches at

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  9. #39

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