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St. Brigid's Church

About this listing

Historic church on Tompkins Square Park

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : East Village
Institution, Place of Worship

Place Matters Profile

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Save St. Brigid


Lauren Cavanaugh

I am from Irish heritage and many of my family came over during the potato famine, and St. Brigid's was a refuge for the Irish during this most difficult time of immigration to the United States.

It is a landmark and a major piece of history built in the 1800's, and it is right in the middle of the Lower East side. Aside from that, the architecture is absolutely beautiful, especially the stained glass windows. They are works of art.

There is a fight between the archdiocese that is about to tear the church down and the comittee that wants to save it. Please see website (November 2006)

Stella Dong

The church was built by Irish boatrights as a church for their fellow Irish immigrants more than 200 years ago. It remained a church for immigrants--this time Latinos--until the NY Archdiocese closed the parish 3 years ago.

Architecturally, it is important because it was designed by Patrick Keeley, an Irish architect who subsequently became a figure of some importance on the American East Coast and in Canada for his Roman Catholic churches, particularly in industrial and working class areas. St. Brigid's is the only remaining example of his work in the United States. In terms of its social significance, St. Brigid's symbolizes the hopes and efforts of all immigrants who came to not just the lower east side, but all of NYC. Aesthetically and spiritually, St. Brigid's is an anchor for the neighborhood and immediately community. So much of the diversity of the lower east side has been diluted over the last two decades. Instead of homogeneity, the old lower east side--and the old New York--was socially and economically varied.

Personally, I can't imagine the neighborhood without the church. When I walk my dog over to the Tompkins Square dog run right across the street from the church I always feel that no matter what terrible thing is happening in the world, somehow it'll all come out alright because we have hope. If St. Brigid's disappeared, I think I would have one less reason for feeling there's ever reason to hope.

Please go to

(September 2006)

Sheila Houlihan

Built by Irish shipbuilders in 1848 with funds donated by the Irish who escaped the Famine, and though extremely poor built a house of worhip as they were unaccepted elsewhere.

The people of this church had this church built in only 15 months time. Their dedication and devotion deserves to be rewarded and preserved.

It is designed by Patrick Keely, an Irish born architect with actual busts of the shipwrights scuplted into its columns. The church is threatened with demolition and I believe a piece of NYC Irish immigration history will be destroyed by and for greed.

(November 2006)

S. Houlihan

St. Brigid's church was built by Irish shipwrights in 1848, the years of the Famine in Ireland, which to the Irish is tantamount to the Holocaust. Irish Catholics at that time had difficulty securing land to build a church because of prejudice against them. However, they purchased the land and the church incredibly was built within 15 months.

St. Brigid's was designed by architect, Patrick Keely, of Tipperary, Ireland and more may be found on the Patrick Keely website.

The history of the church is partly expressed in the carvings of the shipwrights that face into the columns of the church, and the hand-carved pipe organ.

St. Brigid's is in litigation at the present time and thus there is an urgency to the matter of saving it. (October 2006)

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