Our Lady of Loreto, shrouded and scaffolded but still standing

Temporary halt to demolition of historic Ocean Hill-Brownsville church

April 27, 2017 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Catholic officials want to tear down Our Lady of Loreto, but Justice Bernard G. Graham has temporarily halted its demolition. Eagle photos by Lore Croghan
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They’ve hung a funeral shroud on Our Lady of Loreto, but she’s not dead yet.

Catholic officials have obtained demolition permits for the historic century-old church at 126 Sackman St. in the Ocean Hill section of Brownsville.

And as an ominous prelude to tearing down the building, which is eligible for listing on the State and National Register of Historic Places, it has been ringed around with a fence and partly covered in scaffolding and construction netting.

The black netting surely looks like a shroud to members of the Brownsville Cultural Coalition, who have been campaigning to have Our Lady of Loreto landmarked and adaptively reused as a community cultural center.

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“Our Lady of Loreto is being sacrificed on the altar of greed and profit rather than being preserved for the cultural revitalization of the Brownsville community for posterity,” Louis J. Gallo Jr. told the Brooklyn Eagle Thursday before a rally outside the beleaguered but beautiful church.

Gallo is the New York State chairman of the Commission for Social Justice, the anti-defamation arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America.

“But Yogi Berra used to say, ‘It ain’t over till the fat lady sings’ — and she ain’t singing yet,” Gallo added.

A member of the Brownsville Cultural Coalition and former parishioner of Our Lady of Loreto, Jillian Mulvihill, has filed suit to stop the demolition of the historic church, which was built as a refuge for downtrodden Italian immigrants. Justice Bernard G. Graham of the state Supreme Court in Brooklyn has issued a stay halting the demolition until a court hearing set for May 9. See related story.
Miriam Robertson, executive director of  Brownsville Heritage House, told the Eagle, “What we’re asking the Catholic Church is to save Our Lady of Loreto and help effectuate change in the community.”

The Eagle reached out to Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens about the suit. A spokeswoman, Lucy Garrido-Mota, said via email, “We do not comment on legal matters.”

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