Friday, January 28, 2011

St. Paul and St. Agnes, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens

Over the course of decades, the Diocese of Brooklyn has merged several parishes in South Brooklyn (older designation) or Cobble Hill (newer designation) and Carroll Gardens.  In 2011, two churches and two offices are open, but the combined parish of St. Peter and St. Agnes is a single parish, its informative website newly created and linked here.  

Any photo may be enlarged by clicking on it.

The residence of the administrator and the morning office address is 234 Congress Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201. The above photos are taken along Congress St.  The second photo shows Congress Street eastward towards busy Court St.
The parish now carries the name of St. Paul and St. Agnes, and its website is linked here. The afternoon office and parish hall is at 433 Sackett Street, Brooklyn NY 11231, telephone 718-625-1717, adjacent to St. Agnes church.
From the AIA Guide, it would seem that much of St. Paul's church at Court and Congress Streets was designed and built about 1838 by Gamaliel King, allowing the claim that this church is the oldest Catholic church in continuous use in Brooklyn. The steeple was added in the 1860's, and other enlargements were made. The church fronts on Court Street, the chapel and former rectory on Congress Street. For a while, the parish had three names: St. Peter (from the church on Hicks Street that is now a condo), Our Lady of Pilar, and St. Paul. The signs now name it as the parish of St. Peter and St. Agnes, with services alternating between the two church buildings.

St. Paul's parish school at 205 Warren Street closed in 1973. A good friend of mine is recalls with gratitude the education she received there in the early 1940's.
Above, looking east on Sackett Street, Carroll Gardens, we see St. Agnes Church at the intersection of Hoyt Street. Clicking on any photo enlarges it.
Thomas F. Houghton was the architect for the design of this church when it was built in 1905. Houghton, who lived 1842-1913, was the son-in-law of the famous church-builder Patrick Keely. Keely designed the older church building here. The present church was built in 1905 to replace the earlier church that burned in 1901. An account of the fire is here.

The above view looks west on Sackett Street.

Presumably, the above statue represents St. Agnes, a young virgin-martyr in Rome about the year 300.

John Loughlin, Bishop of Brooklyn, established the parish of St. Agnes in 1878, when this neighborhood was probably thought of as Brooklyn or South Brooklyn. The name Carroll Gardens is relatively new, promoted in a successful attempt to sell homes at higher prices. The magnificence of this 1905 church and of the nearby houses may show that the neighborhood was already a good place, near the busy ports and industries of Erie Basin and the Gowanus Canal. About 2008, the parish was combined with that of St. Paul (from which it was sliced in 1878?), so that Masses alternate between the two churches. Please see the new parish website here.
The parish school closed in 1988. Above is the parish hall, the subject of a post card in the Brooklyn Eagle Post Cards, Series 27, No. 158. There are nine windows on the second floor as in the photo above. The title of the postcard is "St. Agnes' Church, Sackett and Hoyt Streets." No date of the photo is given. Calling this building a church is puzzling. Was it an interim church after the fire?
An article from the Manchester, Michigan, Enterprise, dated 12.16.2010, linked here, states that Father Edwin Fisher had three field stone churches all built to the same design, and one is St. Agnes.  However, here is a photo of St. Mary's church in Manchester, Michigan, and it shows few resemblances to St. Agnes.  Maybe the news story is a false lead because of some lack of precision.  St. Agnes is apparently not built of field stone, and the steeple is on the corner.
I was glad to receive this note from a former parishioner of St. Agnes:
Just now found your site on St. Agnes Church and School!!!  I graduated from the school in 1945 and received a great education there.  My maiden name was Barbara DiNapoli and I lived at 380 Union Street.  I would so very much like to locate some of my friends from way, way back then and hope you might have heard from some.St. Agnes was/is a most beautiful church, probably one of the best in all the boroughs.  We were taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph.  I remember Father Bill Toomey, Father Griffen, and a Monsignor with an Irish brogue!  For the life of me I can't remember his name, but I can see his face as it was then.Hope you have some good referrals for dad was a doctor and my grandparents lived at 90 Douglas Street!  What memories!!
Thank you.   Barbara DiNapoli Cody
I was glad to receive this note from a former parishioner of St. Peter's:
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Joseph Murgolo a graduate of Saint Paul's School Class of 1963. The reason(s) that I am corresponding with you is the ask for your assistance in attempting to learn as much as I can about the years that I spent at Saint Paul's School ( 1955 to 1963 ). As to what  it is that I am seeking :
* Locate Photos , Biographies and Stories of the School , Church , Alumni , Sisters of Charity, Priest and Convent.
* Historical information about the surrounding community ( Ebels Restaurant , Corner Candy Store , Local Businesses and such).  During the time I attending Saint Paul's School I lived with my family  who also attended Saint Paul's School and Church. Please note that I am not asking you to put this data together for me. I just need to be pointed in a direction. In the meantime I have sent a letter to Saint Paul's Church business office requesting copies of the Sacraments received at Saint Paul's School.                                  Hopefully you have an idea of my journey. Please contact me if you need clarification.
Joseph Murgolo, 102 Schuyler Drive,Huntersville , N.C. 28078