St. Brigid’s Church
March 12, 2013
Professional Circle members were given an exclusive tour of the recently renovated and rededicated St. Brigid’s Church led by Mick Doyle of Acheson Doyle Partners Architects.
St. Brigid’s is among the earliest Gothic Revival churches in the City, and was built by Irish immigrants escaping the Great Famine. The church is attributed to Patrick Keely, an Irish born carpenter-architect. St. Brigid’s may be the oldest Keely church still standing. Its cornerstone was laid on September 10, 1848 and the church was completed 15 months later.
The building is without transepts or apse (that is to say, it is rectilinear rather than cross-shaped), and features a nave flanked by a north and south aisle, each with a second-story seating gallery fronted by elaborate wainscoting. The vaulted ceiling above the nave is said to have been fashioned by shipbuilders as an upside-down boat. Sculpted faces that abut the corbels supporting the roof are said to honor the shipwrights who built the church.
The building was closed in the early 2000s due to structural cracks. Beginning in 2003, the Conservancy worked to help verify the extent and costs of substantial repairs, and to bring together parishioners, Lower East Side residents and the Irish American community to support the church’s renovation .
Acheson Doyle Partners were in charge of the multi-year, multi-million restoration, which included extensive underpinning of the church foundations and recladding deteriorated masonry facades in cast stone to match original brown sandstone. Rolf Stained and Leaded Glass Studio fitted the windows with Meyer of Munich figural stained glass which came from St. Thomas the Apostle in Harlem, which closed in 2003.
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Throughout the year, Circle tours go behind-the-scenes of some of New York’s most interesting historic properties. Some tours require hard hats to visit projects during restoration, while others showcase completed restorations of commercial buildings, residences, museums, churches, and synagogues. On occasion, conservators, engineers, and craftspeople open their studios to our Circle members.