Volume 76, Number 42 | March 14 - 20, 2007

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.

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