Sacred Sites Program

Saved from Demolition, St. Brigid’s is Rededicated

Saved from Demolition, St. Brigid’s is Rededicated
Saved from Demolition, St. Brigid’s is Rededicated
Saved from Demolition, St. Brigid’s is Rededicated
Saved from Demolition, St. Brigid’s is Rededicated
Saved from Demolition, St. Brigid’s is Rededicated
Saved from Demolition, St. Brigid’s is Rededicated
Saved from Demolition, St. Brigid’s is Rededicated
Saved from Demolition, St. Brigid’s is Rededicated
Saved from Demolition, St. Brigid’s is Rededicated
Saved from Demolition, St. Brigid’s is Rededicated

January 27th, 2013

An overflow crowd filled the Lower East Side sanctuary and the surrounding sidewalks as the former 1848 St. Brigid’s Church was rededicated after a multi-year, $15 million restoration.

The Conservancy was present as Cardinals Timothy Dolan and Edward Egan blessed the new, combined, St. Brigid/St. Emeric’s Church. The joyous celebration clearly demonstrated how much historic religious structures mean to congregants and the entire community.

St. Brigid’s sanctuary was closed in 2001 as major structural cracks at the north side of the building worsened. The congregation raised funds towards stabilization and repair, but in 2004, the archdiocese announced closure of the parish and plans to redevelop the site. Beginning in 2003, the Conservancy worked to help verify the extent and costs of substantial structural repairs, and to bring together parishioners, Lower East Side residents and the Irish American community to publicize the overwhelming support for St. Brigid’s. Despite these efforts, it took an anonymous gift of $20 million to stop the demolition and begin restoration.

St. Brigid’s is among the earliest Gothic Revival churches in the city, and was built by the famine Irish. The church is attributed to Patrick Keely, an Irish born carpenter-architect who carved St. Brigid’s reredos, and went on to design nearly 700 Catholic churches throughout the city, state, and country. The interior features the carved faces of the Irish shipbuilders who worked on the church. Later, Germans, Poles, Ukrainians, and Puerto Rican worshipers filled the pews. Nearby St. Emeric’s, a 1950 auditorium church originally dedicated to the Hungarian St. Emeric to highlight communist persecution of Hungarian Catholics, and now a largely Latino parish, is merging with St. Brigid’s, lending the merged institution its priest, artifacts, and active and enthusiastic youth group and choirs.

Acheson Doyle Partners were in charge of the 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 was closed in 2003. The restoration work uncovered original stenciling behind the altar and the original color scheme.

The Conservancy will continue to work with the parish and the archdiocese to maintain this important and beloved Church.