Sunday, November 10, 2013

St. Vincent de Paul, Williamsburg

This post concerns the sale and conversion of three properties of the former parish of St. Vincent de Paul running through from North 6th Street to North 7th Street, Williamsburg.  To the west is Bedford Avenue, with a thronged subway station of the L train.  To the east is Driggs Avenue, with a secondary entrance to the same station.  The photos and narrative are generally in reverse chronological order.  The church was designed by Patrick Keely and dedicated on October 17, 1869, according to several sources, including a report by Fr. Sylvester Malone printed in the Brooklyn Eagle of October 12, 1890.
It seems that in 2014 lodging in the church was in the form of rental apartments.  The February 12, 2015, issue of Time Out New York has a quarter page story of an actual renter, under the title "Property peep show: Cathedral condo."  I have not been able t find a link to the article and its photos.
Back on May 28, 2014, ran a story, linked here.
The Awl on June 30, 2014, ran this critique.

The former rectory has been converted to apartments and is inhabited.

The above photo shows new construction at the north end (apex) of the church.  Acqua Santa restaurant, at 556 Driggs Avenue, is not part of the property.

Clicking on any photo will enlarge it.  The 49th Street address given for the owner is a mailbox store in Borough Park. It would appear that one project, conversion of the rectory into apartments, is complete.  The conversion of the church is under way, and the drawing in the above photo details the preservation of the facade on North 6th Street.  The skylights in the church roof seem new. Some work has been done on the former school on North Seventh Street, but there appears to be a hiatus in renovation.  Entrances to the Bedford Avenue subway station are only a half-block away.

The next two photos were taken in 2012.

The above photos, taken April 4, 2012, may be enlarged by clicking on each.  Obviously, the buyer of the St. Vincent de Paul property has moved quickly towards gutting and some demolition.  The top photo looks from North 6th Street towards the parish school on North 7th Street, a 1950's building vacant for a few years.  The second building seems to indicate that the senior center used by Catholic Charities, perhaps a former convent, was not sold.  (Yes? No?)  The third photo shows the gutted rectory.
(Update, October, 2012: I much appreciate this comment from Howard Weber:
The Catholic Charities building referred to as a former convent was actually at one time the residence (friary) of the Franciscan Brothers who staffed St. Francis Prep at 186 North 6th Street ( across the street from St Vincent De Paul) from 1952-1974.

If you look at the cornerstone of that it would appear it was built expressly for that purpose.)

(Update, August, 2013: I much appreciate this comment from Terri White:
I believe that the school located on North 7th street was actually built in the 1960's as I was in the first graduating class in 1969. The original school was on Driggs Avenue and North 6th street and was adjacent to the original St Francis Prep boys high school which is now Boricua College. The convent was also adjacent to St Francis prep on north 6th street just before the row of houses. Terri White.)

A friend mailed me a clipping from the Greenline newspaper, dated March 1-31, 2012, page 4, with the headline, "St. Vincent de Paul Church to Become Apts.; Historic Edifice Will Remain Intact."  The developer The North Flats, according to the story, has applied to the Buildings Department to turn the church into 33 apartments, and the parish house into ten apartments.  The adjacent vacant school on North 7th Street and the parking lot were also part of the purchase.  Please read the notes below in view of this latest news.  I must note that there are similarities with the conversion of the buildings of St. Peter's parish some years ago (at Warren and Hicks Streets, Cobble Hill).
On December 6, 2011, the Brooklyn Paper linked here reported that the church of St. Vincent de Paul has been sold to a developer.  In recent days, the diocese has removed the bell and stained glass windows for storage in East New York.  The article is not clear about the other buildings adjacent to the church, to the left in the photo below and the school on the adjoining block behind.  It says that zoning restricts development to residential buildings no taller than fifty feet.
On December 20, 2011, reported here that the sale price was $13.7 million and the size of the property 37,500 square feet (0.86 acre).  The buyer "plans a new residential project."
On April 4, 2011, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio issued a decree linked here, stating that the parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel could no longer afford to maintain the church of St. Vincent de Paul on North 6th Street and that said church could be sold for profane use after June 30, 2011, except for sordid purposes.
The photos below date from March, 2010.

For a few years, Armenian Catholics used this church and rectory.  Please see the link here. The ecclesiastical jurisdiction is the Armenian Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Nareg.

This 1960's school on North 6th Street (photo of March 2010) was in the process of being gutted when I saw the shovel and dump trucks at work 4.5.2012.  Queen of the Rosary Catholic Academy has superseded Northside Catholic Academy.  In November, 2013, scaffolding and some debris obscured this side of the building.

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