When I learned that St. Agnes would be participating in New York Landmark Conservancy's "Sacred Sites Open House" this past week-end, I made sure my camera was ready and joined one of the tours of the church that was given on Sunday.
I did not regret it. Above are some of the photos I took of the interior, which is stunning.
The 8 stained glass windows depicting the life of St. Agnes, which were made in Munich by the renowned firm of Franz Zettler, are worth the visit alone. If you have a chance to walk inside, you should seize it.
The tour was led by Delma Tallerico, author of "Ecclesiastical Architect, Artists And Artisans In America (1860-1920)".
Here is a brief history of the church and its congregation
The formation of the parish of Saint Agnes began in 1878. Its congregation included about six hundred, mostly Irish parishioners. Under the direction of its first pastor, Rev James S. Duffy, a temporary. modest wooden church was constructed at the corner of DeGraw and Hoyt Street. It was inaugurated on the last Sunday of May, 1878.
Barely three years later, the cornerstone for a much more impressive structure was laid at the corner of Sackett and Hoyt Street. The neo-gothic brick church was designed by Brooklyn architect Thomas Francis Houghton. It was officially dedicated in 1888 and consecrated in 1893, the date corresponding to the congregation having paid off the debt associated with the church's construction.
Unfortunately, on June 2, 1901, the brick structure was struck by lightening, and burned to the ground.
Undeterred, Father Duffy and his congregation enlisted the help of Houghton once more to produce plans for a replacement.
St. Agnes, as we see it today, is constructed of granite and Indiana limestone. The church was began in 1904 and were completed in 1913. Its alter was designed by the architect, and made by famed McBride Studios out of Carrara marble. The walls surrounding the alter feather painted panels by the Rambusch Decorating Company.
Directly above the alter, a stained glass window by the German firm F.X. Zettler depicts the Sacret Heart of Jesus.
Father Duffy saw the completion of this 'new' Saint Agnes Church. The parish had grown to 7,500 parishioners by then. Duffy suffered a stoke in 1918. His funeral Mass was held at St. Agnes.
The architect, Thomas Francis Houghton, however, passed away on March 5, 1913, just month after St. Agnes was completed. Incidentally, he lived at 311 President Street right here in the neighborhood.