Category: Archive

Gale destroys St. Brigid’s scaffold

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Rather it fell victim to the gale that had whipped through the New York area as the weekend came to a close. An actuary might term the incident an act of God, but for some it was yet another miracle associated with the battle to save St Brigid’s, a church built by and for Famine immigrants arriving in Manhattan in 1848-49.
“It’s divine intervention,” said Ed Torres, the former chief usher of the East Village church. “The Lord is saying ‘Open my church! Blow these barricades from the front of my church!'”
He and other supporters of the Committee to Save St. Brigid’s Church added that it was the only scaffold collapse reported in Manhattan (there was one other in Brooklyn). At the very least, they said, it was more evidence that the church’s basic structure is sound, something which was confirmed for the committee by experts.
The Archdiocese of New York has since 2001 been committed to the demolition of St. Brigid’s, saying its back wall was unsafe and the church was thus in imminent danger of collapse.
Despite that, workers from the company hired to demolish it punched an 8 x 8 foot hole in the back wall early on July 27, 2006. The following day, a New York court ordered a halt to the destruction, but not before 19th century stained-glass windows donated by Irish immigrant families had been destroyed. The church and the hole are still there, more than 18 months later, and the case is with the Court of Appeals.
“The church has weathered two winters without any protection,” Torres said. “The archdiocese didn’t even cover the windows as we’d asked.”
Yet it was the 21st-century scaffold that Sunday’s winds blew away, while St. Brigid’s – the earliest surviving work of prolific County Tipperary-born architect Patrick C. Keely – and its back wall held steady.
“She’s not falling,” Torres said of the church.

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