Brownsville

Demolition is underway at Our Lady of Loreto in Brownsville

August 22, 2017 By Lore Croghan Brooklyn Daily Eagle
This photo taken on Tuesday, Aug. 22 shows plywood has been placed where statues stood on the facade of Our Lady of Loreto Church. Eagle photo by Lore Croghan

Day by day, Our Lady of Loreto is disappearing.

Workers have started demolishing a historic church in the Ocean Hill section of Brownsville that community activists have been fighting to save.

Catholic officials are moving forward with plans to demolish Our Lady of Loreto Church, which was declared eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places several years ago.

They are doing so despite efforts by the Brownsville Cultural Coalition to have Our Lady of Loreto designated as a city landmark and adaptively reused as a neighborhood cultural center.

The Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corp. (POP), which holds a long-term lease on the vacant cast-stone church at 126 Sackman St., is tearing it down in order to build a 40-unit low-income housing facility.

Workers have removed a chunk of the triangular-shaped ornamental roof on the front of the building.

They have also removed statues of saints that stood in niches on the church’s facade.

On Tuesday, workers could be seen inside the church. Debris was piled near an open door.

Late last month, workers made a preliminary move in removing historic materials from the church site when they took away a sacred statue of the Blessed Mother from a pedestal on its plaza.

At that time, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities told the Brooklyn Eagle that the Blessed Mother statue was put “in storage for use at a later date.”

 

World War II memorial plaque has been removed

In the weeks since then, workers have also removed the pedestal on which this statue of the Virgin Mary had stood. The pedestal is a memorial plaque for soldiers from Our Lady of Loreto’s parish who died in World War II.  

The neoclassical Roman Renaissance-style church was built a century ago as a place of refuge for Italian immigrants who were discriminated against by Catholics of other ethnicities who had arrived in the United States before they did.

Adriano Armezzani, the architect who designed Our Lady of Loreto, was an Italian immigrant. The artisans who constructed the church were Italian immigrants.

Last spring, the city Buildings Department issued demolition permits for Our Lady of Loreto.

But the city agency later issued a stop work order because former parishioner and Brownsville Cultural Coalition member Jillian Mulvihill mounted a legal challenge to fight the planned destruction of the church.

In June, Justice Ellen Spodek of the state Supreme Court in Brooklyn denied Mulvihill’s motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the demolition.

In July, the judge denied a motion by Mulvihill for permission to renew and re-argue the case.

The Buildings Department recently lifted its stop work order.